Minnesota Supreme Court Cites Mckee V. Laurion In Lavonne Pfeil, Appellant V. St. Matthews Evangelical Lutheran Church Of The Unaltered Augsburg Confession Of Worthington, Nobles County, Minnesota, Respondents.

Supreme Court of Minnesota.

LaVonne PFEIL, Appellant, v. ST. MATTHEWS EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH OF the UNALTERED AUGSBURG CONFESSION OF WORTHINGTON, Nobles County, Minnesota, Respondents.

No. A14–0605.

Decided: April 6, 2016

Zorislav R. Leyderman, The Law Office of Zorislav R. Leyderman, Minneapolis, MN, for appellant. Ken D. Schueler, Jennifer M. Peterson, Dunlap & Seeger, P.A., Rochester, MN; and Timothy J. O’Connor, William L. Davidson, Lind, Jensen, Sullivan & Peterson, P.A., Minneapolis, MN, for respondents. Mark R. Bradford, Steven P. Aggergaard, Bassford Remele, Minneapolis, MN; and Sherri C. Strand, Mark Sableman, Anthony F. Blum, Thompson Coburn, LLP, Saint Louis, MO, for amicus curiae The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.

OPINION

In this case, we are presented with the question of whether pastors and their church can be held liable for statements the pastors made about a parishioner during formal church disciplinary proceedings. Appellants LaVonne and Henry Pfeil allege that they were defamed by the pastoral staff of St. Matthew Lutheran Church1 during two church disciplinary proceedings that were held for the purpose of excommunicating the Pfeils from St. Matthew. The district court dismissed the Pfeils’ claims with prejudice on First Amendment grounds, and the court of appeals affirmed. Because the First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the right of a religious organization to make autonomous decisions regarding church discipline and membership, we affirm the district court’s dismissal of the claims.

. . .

Had the court applied the Odenthal framework, it would have held that it could use neutral principles of law: Minnesota’s law of defamation. Then it would have analyzed the allegedly defamatory statements, one by one, to determine whether each could be resolved without excessive entanglement. Had it done so, it would have concluded that adjudicating most of the statements would be entangling. It also would have concluded that most were not actionable because they were matters of opinion.2 See, e.g., McKee v. Laurion, 825 N.W.2d 725, 733 (Minn.2013) (calling a physician a “real tool” is an opinion that cannot be the basis for a defamation action).

Full Decision

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Web Posting

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Patient Complaint

Plaintiff David McKee’s Reply To Patient Complaint

Plaintiff David McKee’s Cease And Desist Letter To Defendant Dennis Laurion

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Complaint To Minnesota Board Of Medical Practice

Plaintiff David McKee’s Complaint To Sixth Judicial District Duluth Court

Plaintiff David McKee’s Response To Minnesota Board Of Medical Practice

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Answer To Plaintiff David McKee’s Complaint

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Motion For Summary Judgment

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Deposition Extracts

Plaintiff David McKee’s Deposition Testimony About Circumstances Before Encounter With Laurion Family

Plaintiff David McKee’s Deposition Testimony About Encounter With Laurion Family

Plaintiff David McKee’s Deposition Testimony About Circumstances After Encounter With Laurion Family

Plaintiff David McKee’s Deposition Testimony In Response To Questions By Marshall Tanick

Affidavits By Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Parents

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Supplemental Motion For Summary Judgment

Plaintiff David McKee’s Motion To Oppose Summary Judgment

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Reply Memo In Support Of Motion For Summary Judgment

Sixth Judicial District Court’s Order On Motion For Summary Judgment

Plaintiff David McKee’s Appeal Of Order On Motion For Summary Judgment

Plaintiff David McKee’s Brief To Minnesota Court Of Appeals

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Brief To Minnesota Court Of Appeals

Plaintiff David McKee’s Reply Brief To Minnesota Court Of Appeals

Minnesota Court Of Appeals Order To Strike Portion Of Plaintiff David McKee’s Reply Brief

Minnesota Court Of Appeals Announces Decision

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Petition For Review By Minnesota Supreme Court

Plaintiff David McKee’s Opposition To Review By Minnesota Supreme Court

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Brief To Minnesota Supreme Court

Plaintiff David McKee’s Brief To Minnesota Supreme Court

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Reply Brief To Minnesota Supreme Court

Minnesota Supreme Court Decision On David McKee MD V. Dennis K. Laurion

David McKee MD v. Dennis Laurion 2010

David McKee MD v. Dennis Laurion 2011

David McKee MD v. Dennis Laurion 2012

David McKee MD v. Dennis Laurion 2013

McKee V Laurion Is A Textbook Case

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Minnesota Supreme Court Cites Mckee V. Laurion In Lavonne Pfeil, Appellant V. St. Matthews Evangelical Lutheran Church Of The Unaltered Augsburg Confession Of Worthington, Nobles County, Minnesota, Respondents.

Supreme Court of Minnesota.

 

LaVonne PFEIL, Individually and as Trustee for Heirs of Henry Pfeil, deceased, Appellant, v. ST. MATTHEWS EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH OF the UNALTERED AUGSBURG CONFESSION OF WORTHINGTON, Nobles County, Minnesota, et al., Respondents.

 

No. A14–0605.

    

Decided: April 6, 2016

Zorislav R. Leyderman, The Law Office of Zorislav R. Leyderman, Minneapolis, MN, for appellant. Ken D. Schueler, Jennifer M. Peterson, Dunlap & Seeger, P.A., Rochester, MN; and Timothy J. O’Connor, William L. Davidson, Lind, Jensen, Sullivan & Peterson, P.A., Minneapolis, MN, for respondents. Mark R. Bradford, Steven P. Aggergaard, Bassford Remele, Minneapolis, MN; and Sherri C. Strand, Mark Sableman, Anthony F. Blum, Thompson Coburn, LLP, Saint Louis, MO, for amicus curiae The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.

OPINION

In this case, we are presented with the question of whether pastors and their church can be held liable for statements the pastors made about a parishioner during formal church disciplinary proceedings. Appellants LaVonne and Henry Pfeil allege that they were defamed by the pastoral staff of St. Matthew Lutheran Church1 during two church disciplinary proceedings that were held for the purpose of excommunicating the Pfeils from St. Matthew. The district court dismissed the Pfeils’ claims with prejudice on First Amendment grounds, and the court of appeals affirmed. Because the First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the right of a religious organization to make autonomous decisions regarding church discipline and membership, we affirm the district court’s dismissal of the claims.

. . .

Had the court applied the Odenthal framework, it would have held that it could use neutral principles of law: Minnesota’s law of defamation. Then it would have analyzed the allegedly defamatory statements, one by one, to determine whether each could be resolved without excessive entanglement. Had it done so, it would have concluded that adjudicating most of the statements would be entangling. It also would have concluded that most were not actionable because they were matters of opinion. See, e.g., McKee v. Laurion, 825 N.W.2d 725, 733 (Minn.2013) (calling a physician a “real tool” is an opinion that cannot be the basis for a defamation action).

Full Decision

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Web Posting

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Patient Complaint

Plaintiff David McKee’s Reply To Patient Complaint

Plaintiff David McKee’s Cease And Desist Letter To Defendant Dennis Laurion

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Complaint To Minnesota Board Of Medical Practice

Plaintiff David McKee’s Complaint To Sixth Judicial District Duluth Court

Plaintiff David McKee’s Response To Minnesota Board Of Medical Practice

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Answer To Plaintiff David McKee’s Complaint

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Motion For Summary Judgment

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Deposition Extracts

Plaintiff David McKee’s Deposition Testimony About Circumstances Before Encounter With Laurion Family

Plaintiff David McKee’s Deposition Testimony About Encounter With Laurion Family

Plaintiff David McKee’s Deposition Testimony About Circumstances After Encounter With Laurion Family

Plaintiff David McKee’s Deposition Testimony In Response To Questions By Marshall Tanick

Affidavits By Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Parents

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Supplemental Motion For Summary Judgment

Plaintiff David McKee’s Motion To Oppose Summary Judgment

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Reply Memo In Support Of Motion For Summary Judgment

Sixth Judicial District Court’s Order On Motion For Summary Judgment

Plaintiff David McKee’s Appeal Of Order On Motion For Summary Judgment

Plaintiff David McKee’s Brief To Minnesota Court Of Appeals

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Brief To Minnesota Court Of Appeals

Plaintiff David McKee’s Reply Brief To Minnesota Court Of Appeals

Minnesota Court Of Appeals Order To Strike Portion Of Plaintiff David McKee’s Reply Brief

Minnesota Court Of Appeals Announces Decision

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Petition For Review By Minnesota Supreme Court

Plaintiff David McKee’s Opposition To Review By Minnesota Supreme Court

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Brief To Minnesota Supreme Court

Plaintiff David McKee’s Brief To Minnesota Supreme Court

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Reply Brief To Minnesota Supreme Court

Minnesota Supreme Court Decision On David McKee MD V. Dennis K. Laurion

David McKee MD v. Dennis Laurion 2010

David McKee MD v. Dennis Laurion 2011

David McKee MD v. Dennis Laurion 2012

David McKee MD v. Dennis Laurion 2013

McKee V Laurion Is A Textbook Case