APRIL 22, 2010
[ This text is copied from Exhibits AA-358, AA-359, and AA-360 of the Minnesota Defamation Lawsuit of David McKee, MD, V. Dennis K. Laurion, Minnesota Sixth Judicial District Case 69DU-CV-10-1706, Filed June 9, 2010. ]
Reviewer: Dennis Laurion
Submitted to INSIDER PAGES, HEALTH GRADES, VITALS:
My father spent 2 days in ICU after a hemorrhagic stroke. He saw a speech therapist and physical therapist for evaluation. About 120 minutes after my father transferred from ICU to a ward room, Dr. McKee walked into a family visit with my dad. He seemed upset that my father had been moved. Never having met my father or his family, Dr. McKee said, “When you weren’t in ICU, I had to spend time finding out if you transferred or died.” When we gaped at him, he said, “Well, 44% of hemorrhagic strokes die within 30 days. I guess this is the better option. My father mentioned that he’d been seen by a physical therapist and speech therapist. Dr. McKee said, “Therapists? You don’t need therapy. He pulled my father to a sitting and asked him to get out of bed and walk. When my father said his gown was just hanging from his neck without a back, Dr. McKee said, “That doesn’t matter.” My wife said, “It matters to us; let us go into the hall.” Five minutes later, Dr. McKee strolled out of the room. He did not talk to my mother or myself. When I mentioned Dr. McKee to a friend who is a nurse, she said, “Dr. McKee is a real tool.
APRIL 22, 2010
[ This is copied from Exhibits AA-189 through AA-192 of David McKee, MD, V. Dennis K. Laurion, Minnesota Sixth Judicial District Case 69DU-CV-10-1706, Filed June 9, 2010. Other addressees of this document can be found within other exhibits or documents of Case 69DU-CV-10-1706. ]
Subject: Patient Care Complaint
St. Luke’s Hospital
915 East First Street
Duluth MN 55805
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen:
My father, Kenneth Laurion, born in May of 1925, suffered a hemorrhagic stroke and spent four days at St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth MN from April 17, 2010, through April 21, 2010. After first repeating my father’s praise for the staff of St. Luke’s, I want to offer negative feedback about one incident that left my family appalled, embarrassed, frightened, and then upset.
My mother knew only that my father was experiencing vertigo and emesis. She wanted my help getting him to the Emergency Department of St. Luke’s Hospital. Seeing that my father’s face was reddened, and fearing that his sudden onset could stem from a stroke, rather than an illness, I told my mother that the Fire Department would better assess and transport him. . . .
During my father’s second day in the ICU, his nurse Mike assured us that his second CT was reassuring and that a third CT – with contrast – ruled out aneurysms. He recorded the family observation that my father’s right arm tremble was not pre-existing. During a family visit, my father told us he was visited by a physical therapist and a speech therapist. It appeared from his account that they had each been evaluating him rather than beginning a therapy regimen.
My father spent his third and fourth day at St. Luke’s in room 411. My mother, my wife, and I visited him within an hour of his move from ICU. His nurse and nursing student introduced themselves and discussed his situation with us. My mother expressed her concern that “This could happen to him again?” She was told that, while it was possible, his CT with contrast ruled out present aneurysms.
While we visited my father, a doctor strode into the room. He appeared annoyed. He asked my father if he were Mr. Laurion. I was surprised that he asked the question in that manner. As a Coast Guard Health Services Technician, I had never asked patients a yes or no question. I’d have asked “What is your name?” My father has conversational hearing loss and could have thought he was being asked, “Are you warm?” When my father said yes, the doctor said, “When you weren’t in the ICU, I had to find out whether you had transferred or died.” He sounded like he blamed my father for this loss of his time. When my wife and mother and I gaped at the doctor, he told my father, “Some stroke patients die before getting out of ICU; I guess this is the better option.” I was appalled! I wondered whether the doctor had a terrible bedside manner or a terrible sense of humor. My mother didn’t need to be reminded that my father could have died.
The doctor said that he was Dr. McKee and “I have to do a neurology exam.” When my father answered that a physical therapist and a speech therapist had seen him, and that he was used to being asked his date of birth, asked where he was, and asked to pull or push against the examiner’s hands; Dr. McKee said, “Therapy? You don’t need that!” Dr. McKee asked if my father could sit up and began lifting him up by his arms. When my father was seated on the edge of the bed, Dr. McKee asked him to get out of bed and walk around. My father’s gown hung from his neck, but his back was exposed. He said, “I think I can walk, but this gown doesn’t cover my backside.” Dr. McKee said, “That doesn’t matter,” and pulled my father’s arms toward him. My wife asked Dr. McKee to wait a moment while we exited the room.
MAY 6, 2010
[ This text is copied from Exhibits AA-472 and AA-473 of the Minnesota Defamation Lawsuit of David McKee, MD, V. Dennis K. Laurion, Minnesota Sixth Judicial District Case 69DU-CV-10-1706, Filed June 9, 2010. ]
Gary Peterson, MD, Medical Director, St. Luke’s Hospital, 915 E. 1st. Street, Duluth, MN 55805
Re: Dennis K. Laurion
Thanks for calling me regarding the Dennis Laurion incident. I appreciate having had a chance to talk to you about this on Monday. Today I received the copy of the letter that he sent to you and to a plethora of other individuals and medical organizations. . Per our conversation, I’ll summarize the mistakes made in that letter. First, I’ll point out that in every place that Mr. Laurion used quotation marks to identify a statement that I had made, the quotation was entirely inaccurate and in some cases, completely fabricated in the sense that I made no statement even remotely similar to what he recorded. The patient’s father presented with a cerebellar hemorrhage. I was posted to see him by his attending and saw him the same day that I received the posting. The patient was initially in the ICU but had been transferred to a medical bed prior to my seeing him. When I entered the room, I certainly wasn’t angry or annoyed but did make the comment that I had looked for him in the intensive care unit and was glad to see that he had been transferred from there to a regular hospital bed, as the two possibilities when one leaves the ICU are that you a patient has improved and doesn’t need the intensive care unit or a patient has died (sic). This was no glib or morose and, obviously the situation with the patient was a favorable one in that he had left the ICU (sic). Nobody in the room, the patient, his wife or Dennis Laurion himself expressed or showed any evident disconcert with that statement.
As for the incident with the hospital gown, the lead up to this was nothing like what Dennis Laurion stated. I asked the patient if he had been out of bed that day and after hearing that the therapists had worked with him but had not gotten him out of bed that day, I asked if he felt up to that and if he wanted to try to stand and walk a little bit. He told me that he very much wanted to try to get out of bed and I held my hands out so that he could grab them to pull himself to a standing position. I certainly did not jerk him out of bed or in any way rush him. It was when he was half-standing, half sitting that Dennis Laurion, sitting in a chair on the other side of the bed, made the observation that the patient’s hospital gown was only tied at the neck. By the way that he said this, I thought that his concern was that the gown might fall off but I could see the knot was well tied and told him that I thought it would be fine. It never crossed my mind that he was concerned about his father’s modesty with the back of the gown open, since it would have been the simplest maneuver conceivable for Dennis Laurion to have reached over and tied the back of the gown if he was so concerned. You have to realize that, at this point, the patient was half-stranding and I was holding both of his forearms and he, in turn, was holding both of my forearms. For Dennis Laurion to suggest that I should have lowered his father back to the bed, walked around to the other side of the bed and tied up his hospital gown when it would have been so very simple for him to have done it himself defies comprehension. I think this, more than anything else, underscores the extent to which Dennis Laurion is a very passive-aggressive fellow. [ See Editor Footnote 1 ] When the patient was standing, one of the family members asked if he would prefer if they left the room for the rest of the physical exam. This, as you know, is a very common question put to patient’s (sic) by their family members. The patient said that he would prefer that and the family members all left. None of them seemed in the slightest upset or annoyed. Certainly, nobody said anything to imply that there was any concern on their part. I finished examining the patient, got him back into bed and left the room. The family members were not near the patient’s door when I left the room. If they had been, I would have offered to answer questions, which is something that I always do when I leave a patient’s room. Dennis Laurion’s suggestion that I went over to “a nurse sitting next to a tub of patients’ charts and stood near her scowling” is absured. It is also not germane. There is no way Dennis Laurion was in a position to have seen what I did after leaving his father’s room; certainly, he was not near enough to have assessed my mood or my facial expression. [ See Editor Footnote 2 ]
Dennis Laurion appears to be something of an oddball. I have already contacted two lawyers about a defamation suit because of comments that he made on the internet that are more inflammatory than what he wrote in the letter that you received. One of the attorney’s Marshall Tomick (sic), told me that unequivocally, Dennis Laurion is guilty of “malicious defamation” and has already written a rough draft of a cease-and-desist letter to be sent to Mr. Laurion, probably tomorrow.
Again, thanks for bringing this unfortunate issue to my attention.
David McKee, MD
May 7, 2010
[ This text is copied from Exhibits App-73 and App-74 of the Minnesota Defamation Lawsuit of David McKee, MD, V. Dennis K. Laurion, Minnesota Sixth Judicial District Case 69DU-CV-10-1706, Filed June 9, 2010. ]
Dennis Laurion, 5402 Juniata Street, Duluth, MN 55804-1342
Re: David McKee, M.D.
Dear Mr. Laurion:
I represent Dr. David McKee, who provided treatment to your father recently.
You have posted on several public websites and in various other communications defamatory statements about Dr. McKee, including false statements of fact regarding Dr. McKee’s treatment of your father when he in Saint Luke’s Hospital. The statements you make about him and comments you ascribe to him, are not true. They cast him in a negative light, have potential to harm his reputation, and are defamatory. Dr. McKee denies making the statements that you attribute to him, or committing the conduct that you ascribe in your web postings.
Dr. McKee is an outstanding physician with a sterling medical record and outstanding history of treating patients. He takes this matter seriously, and I am sure you do, too.
He is prepared to pursue appropriate legal action to preserve his reputation. However, before doing so, he wants to give you an opportunity to correct this matter. Therefore, we demand you do the following:
Immediately remove all web postings about him;
Stop any further web postings or other communication on the internet or otherwise, that are disparaging, defamatory or of any other nature about him.
You do not have the right to disparage and defame him in this way to the public. Therefore, unless the actions set forth above are taken immediately, Dr. McKee is prepared to take appropriate legal action to protect and preserve his rights.
Please get back to me, or have your legal representative or insurance carrier, contact me immediately. Please be mindful that my client has the means and motivation to pursue all available recourse against you as to this matter.
Thank you for your consideration.
Very truly yours,
Mansfield, Tanick & Cohen, P.A.
MAY 7, 2010
[ This text is copied from Exhibits AA-395, AA-396, AA-397, AA-398, and AA-399 of the Minnesota Defamation Lawsuit of David McKee, MD, V. Dennis K. Laurion, Minnesota Sixth Judicial District Case 69DU-CV-10-1706, Filed June 9, 2010. ]
From: 5402 Juniata Street
Duluth MN 55804
To: Marshall H. Tanick
1700 U. S. Bank Plaza South
220 South 6th Street
Minneapolis MN 55402-4511
Dear Mr. Tanick,
I am in receipt of your intimidating letter of May 7, 2010, regarding David McKee, MD.
Although I intend to seek counsel, I wish to detail my previous actions relative to Dr. McKee, my past and present intentions about Doctor McKee, and my possible future action relative to Dr. McKee.
After the encounter that I describe in enclosure 1 and enclosure 2, I felt the need for Doctor McKee to know that he treated my father rudely. I felt then and feel now that Dr. McKee owes my father an apology. I knew then and know now that Dr. McKee doesn’t want my opinion or agree with it. I felt that St. Luke’s Hospital and agencies that set standards for Dr. McKee should review my opinion and see if they agree.
My past actions:
I visited the following websites that seek patient ratings of doctors:
Insider Pages, Health Grades, Vitals.
I posted the contents of enclosure 1. I confined my comments to a recitation of my personal experiences. I did not state any generalities or any opinions about Dr. McKee’s medical skills.
I next sent enclosure 2 to: American Academy of Neurology; American Neurological Association; Attending Physician Craig L. Gilbertson, MD; Lake Superior Medical Society; Minnesota Board of Medical Practice; Minnesota Department of Health Office of Health Facility Complaints; Minnesota Medical Association; Minnesota Quality Improvement Organization, Office of Quality Monitoring, The Joint Commission (JCAHO); Patients Action Network, American Medical Association; St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services Advisory Committee Senior Ombudsman; St. Luke’s Hospital Patient Advocate.
Since I don’t know who influences Dr. McKee’s behavior, I sent enclosure 2 to any agency that might be able to counsel him about his bedside manner.
My present intentions:
Today, I received an email from the Ruth Martinez, Supervisor, Complaint Review Unit, MN Board of Medical Practice. It says “If you would like to file a complaint against one or more professionals regulated by the Board of Medical Practice, you may download the complaint forms from the Home Page of the Board’s website at http://www.bmp.state.mn.us. Please sign and return the completed forms to our office by US Postal Service. You may wish to attach a copy of your e-mail summary to the complaint form, rather than rewriting your complaint. If you have any difficulty downloading the forms from the website, let me know and I will be happy to mail you the necessary forms.”
Before I received your letter, my inclination has been to let this drop. I got it off my chest. I think Dr. McKee’s behavior was rude. I felt somebody whose opinion matters to him should tell him “We got this complaint; we thought you should see it.” That was all I sought. I don’t think Dr. McKee’s curtness to my father merits loss or suspension of his license or privileges, and I know I don’t have the horsepower to accomplish that anyway. Until today, my actions were finished – no more letters, no more forum postings, no legal action.
My future intentions:
I shall, of necessity, visit the lawyer who has previously counseled me about estate planning and business contracts. I’ll ask him if my expressed complaints about Dr. McKee’s behavior do, in fact, constitute defamation. I anticipate he may have to refer me to another attorney.
I returned to the websites on which I posted enclosure 1. None provides a mechanism for my deleting my comments. If Dr. McKee has you contact me again, I’ll take that as his desire that I balance my remarks by amending them to include his response to me, so the public can see his rebuttal. I’ll also send a copy of your letter to each of my previous addressees, so they can see your assertion that Dr. McKee denies making the statement that I attribute to him. Otherwise, I have no intention of posting anything more about Dr. McKee or corresponding with anybody about Dr. McKee.
Only if I feel the necessity, I’ll write to Ms. Martinez. I’ll affirm to her that my original statements are true. I’ll ask for the complaint form – not only because of Dr. McKee’s behavior toward my father, but because he threatened legal action against me for using valid communications channels to seek a valid and measured response.
I affirm to you in this letter and in any other necessary venue that Doctor McKee said and did the things I’ve asserted. My mother, father, and wife will attest to that. Having had a stroke, my father has forgotten Dr. McKee’s name, but he does remember that his unpleasant conversation was with the neurologist who visited him. I’ve never met Dr. McKee before and wasn’t predisposed to picking a fight with one of my father’s treating sources. I felt Dr. McKee owed my father an apology. I’m pragmatic enough to know that won’t happen. Left to my own devices, I’m no longer inclined to discuss Dr. McKee’s behavior with anybody.
I’ll consider this matter finished. Will Dr. McKee?
DENNIS K. LAURION
MAY 14, 2010
“McKee V. Laurion: Defendant’s Complaint Registration With Minnesota Board Of Medical Practice Entered As Plaintiff Exhibits”
The Defendant’s Complaint Registration with the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice was provided as Exhibits AA-424 and AA-443 of the Minnesota Defamation Lawsuit of David McKee, MD, V. Dennis K. Laurion, Minnesota Sixth Judicial District Case 69DU-CV-10-1706, filed June 9, 2010.
MAY 18, 2010
[ This is copied from Exhibits RA-018 through RA-021 of David McKee, MD, V. Dennis K. Laurion, Minnesota Sixth Judicial District Case 69DU-CV-10-1706, Filed June 9, 2010. ]
STATE OF MINNESOTA DISTRICT COURT
COUNTY OF ST. LOUIS SIXTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT
David McKee, M. D., Plaintiff
Dennis K. Laurion, Defendant
Case Type: Defamation Court File No __________________
1. Plaintiff David McKee, M. D. , for his Complaint against Defendant Dennis Laurion, states and alleges as follows: Plaintiff McKee is a medical doctor licensed to practice medicine in the State of Minnesota, resides and works in Duluth, St. Louis County, Minnesota, and practices neurology in Duluth, St. Louis County, Minnesota.
2. Defendant Laurion is an individual who resides in Duluth, St.Louis County, Minnesota.
3. On or about April 20, 2010, Plaintiff McKee furnished medical services to a relative of Defendant. On or about April 22, 2010, Defendant Laurion published to third parties on the worldwide internet various false statements of fact concerning Plaintiff’s treatment of a relative of Defendant (relative of Defendant is sometimes hereinafter referred to as “the individual”). The false statements of fact include, but are not limited to, the following: that Plaintiff “seemed upset” that the individual had been transferred from an ICU (intensive care unit) to a ward room; that Plaintiff stated to the individual that he had to “spend time finding out if you were transferred or died;” that he further stated that “44% of hemorrhagic strokes die within 30 days. I guess this is the better option;” and he told the individual that “you don’ t need therapy;” that he told the individual that “it doesn’t matter” that the gown was hanging from the neck, without any back ; that Plaintiff strode out of the room without talking to the individual’s wife or Laurion; that he subsequently stated that “Dr. McKee is a real tool!”
4. On or about April 22, 2010, Defendant further published additional false statements to various third parties, including, but not limited to, the American Academy of Neurology; the American Neurological Association; two physicians in Duluth; the Lake Superior Medical Society; the Minnesota Quality Improvement Organization; Office of Quality Monitoring of the Joint Commission; the Patient’s Action Network of the American Medical Association; St. Louis County Public Health & Human Services Advisory Committee; Senior Ombudsman; St. Luke’ s Hospital; Minnesota Department of Health Office of Health Facility Complaints; and , Minnesota Medical Association.
5. The statements made to these individuals included some of the same statements as in other communication set forth in Paragraph 3, above, as well as additional false factual statements, including that Plaintiff “blamed” the patient for loss of Plaintiff’s time; when he exited the room where Defendant’ s relative was located , Plaintiff was “scowling,” that Plaintiff regarded Defendant’s relative as a “task and a charting assignment;” that he did not treat Defendant’s relative with “dignity.”
COUNT I. DEFAMATION
6. Plaintiff restates and re-alleges the above as if fully set forth herein and further states as follows:
7. The aforesaid statements cause harm to the reputation of Plaintiff insofar as it has a tendency to lowers his regard in the eyes of others.
8. The aforesaid conduct constitutes defamation per se.
9. As a result of the above, Plaintiff has suffered damages, including harm to reputation, emotional distress, pain and suffering, in a reasonable amount in excess of $50,000.
10. By reason of the foregoing, Plaintiff is entitled to judgment against Defendant in an amount in excess of $50,000.
COUNT II. INTERFERENCE WITH BUSINESS
11. Plaintiff restates and re-alleges the above fully set forth herein and further states as follows:
12. The aforesaid conduct by Defendant was done intentionally, knowingly, and without authorization.
13. The aforesaid conduct by Defendant interferes with Plaintiff s business activities.
14. As a result of the above, Plaintiff has suffered damages, including potential loss of income , emotional distress, pain and suffering in an amount in a reasonable amount in excess of $50,000.
15. For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff is entitled to judgment against Defendant in a reasonable amount in excess of $50,000.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff David McKee requests the following relief against Defendant Dennis K. Laurion:
1. A judgment in a reasonable amount in excess of $50 ,000 for defamation.
2. A judgment in a reasonable amount in excess of $50,000 for interference with business.
3. Leave to amend the Complaint to include a claim for punitive damages.
4. Awarding pre-judgment and post judgment interest.
5. Awarding to Plaintiff his reasonable costs and disbursements incurred herein.
6. Such other and further relief as may be deemed just and equitable.
Date: May 18, 2010
MANSFIELD, TANICK & COHEN, P.A.
/ S /
Marshall H Tanick
220 South Sixth Street, # 1700
Minneapolis, MN 55402-4511
ATTORNEYS FOR PLAINTIFF
MAY 28, 2010
The Plaintiff’s letter to the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice was provided as Exhibits AA-474 and AA-475 of the Minnesota Defamation Lawsuit of David McKee, MD, V. Dennis K. Laurion, Minnesota Sixth Judicial District Case 69DU-CV-10-1706, Filed June 9, 2010.
JUNE 8, 2010
CASE TYPE: 14. Other Civil, Court File Number 69DU-CV-10-1706, Judge Assigned: Hon. Eric Hylden
STATE OF MINNESOTA, IN DISTRICT COURT, SIXTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT, COUNTY OF ST. LOUIS
David McKee, M.D., Plaintiff, V. Dennis K. Laurion, Defendant
ANSWER OF DEFENDANT DENNIS K. LAURION
Defendant Dennis K. Laurion, for his Answer to plaintiff’s Complaint:
- Except as hereinafter specifically admitted, qualified, or otherwise explained, denies the allegations stated in the Complaint.
- Admits the allegations made in Paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Complaint.
- In answer to the allegations made in the first sentence of Paragraph 3 of the Complaint, alleges that this answering defendant recalls plaintiff saw his father, on or about April 19, 2010.
- In further answer to allegations made in Paragraph 3 of the Complaint, defendant admits and alleges that he submitted to various entities, including the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, a factual recitation of what defendant observed and heard concerning plaintiff s conduct in examining defendant’s father at St. Luke’s Hospital.
- In further answer to the allegations made in Paragraph 3 of the Complaint, defendant denies uttering any falsehood with respect to plaintiff.
- In answer to the allegations made in Paragraph 4 of the Complaint, defendant admits communicating with various entities, including St. Luke’s Hospital, in regard to what he observed and heard concerning plaintiff s conduct in examining defendant’s father at St. Luke’s Hospital.
- In further answer to the allegations made in Paragraph 4, defendant alleges that any and all statements made or submitted by him to the various entities concerning plaintiff’s treatment of defendant’s father were true, privileged, and made under such circumstances that defendant is immune from any liability to plaintiff.
- In answer to the allegations stated in Paragraph 5 of the Complaint, defendant denies making any false statements regarding plaintiff and alleges that any and all statements made or submitted by him to the various entities concerning plaintiff s treatment of defendant’s father were true, privileged, and made under such circumstances that defendant is immune from any liability to plaintiff.
- In answer to the allegations made in Count I, Paragraphs 6 through 10 of the Complaint, defendant restates and re-alleges the denials and allegations made in the preceding paragraphs of this Answer and denies the allegations made in Paragraphs 7 through 10 of the Complaint.
- In answer to the allegations made in County II, Paragraphs 11 through 15, restates and re-alleges the allegations and denials made in the preceding paragraphs of this Answer and denies the allegations made in Paragraphs 12,13, 14, and 15 of the Complaint.
JUNE 11, 2010
Minnesota Senator Yvonne Prettner Solon and Minnesota Senate Counsel Katie Cavanor wrote to Dennis Laurion to discuss the legislative intent of the Minnesota Patient Bill of Rights
[This text is photocopied from Exhibits AA-196, AA-197, and AA-198 of the Minnesota Defamation Lawsuit of David McKee, MD, V. Dennis K. Laurion, Minnesota Sixth Judicial District Case 69DU-CV-10-1706, Filed June 9, 2010.]
JUNE 12, 2010
“Son Of Patient Complains. Duluth Doctor Sues.”
Mark Stodghill, DULUTH NEWS TRIBUNE
A Duluth physician is suing the son of a former patient for publicly criticizing his bedside manner. Dr. David McKee, a neurologist with Northland Neurology and Myology, filed the lawsuit, which was made public Friday, in St. Louis County District Court. McKee alleges that Dennis Laurion of Duluth defamed him and interfered with his business by making false statements to various third parties, including the American Academy of Neurology, the American Neurological Association, two physicians in Duluth, the St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services Advisory Committee and St. Luke hospital, among others.
Laurion claims that any statements he made about the doctor were true and that he is immune from any liability to the plaintiff. He referred questions to his Duluth attorney, John Kelly.
McKee is asking for more than $50,000 in damages. The doctor was paged Friday but did not return a call seeking comment. He is being represented by Minneapolis attorney Marshall Tanick, who in a phone interview alleged that Laurion defamed his client in several ways, including posting negative reviews of McKee on various websites. The basis for the lawsuit is the defamatory statements that were made on websites and to other sources, Tanick said. However, by no means does Dr. McKee want to in any way prevent or affect any kind of communications that may be made to the Board of Medical Practice or any other regulatory agencies. The purpose of the lawsuit is to prevent defamation being made on the websites and through other sources.
Defense attorney Kelly said it was a tense and emotional situation for the Laurion family. They were worried about Dad and the doctor comes along and, from their point of view, of what they saw and what they heard, they felt that the doctor didn’t act appropriately toward the father, Kelly said. So, among other things, they saw fit to report it to the hospital and to the Board of Medical Practice, which they have every right to do under the patient Bill of Rights, and they get sued. Kelly said his client did post ratings of McKee on some websites but said he asked to have them removed, and they were. The defense attorney thinks that the lawsuit is without merit. “I think it is an unfortunate incident of someone attempting to punish a person who has spoken out of concern for a family member,” Kelly said.
August 30, 2010
Defendant Laurion of McKee V. Laurion filed a Motion For Summary Judgement August 30, 2010.
SEPTEMBER 2, 2010
“When Neurologists Sue For Defamation”
Orly Avitzur, MD, American Academy of Neurology
NEUROLOGY TODAY: Volume 10 – Issue 17 – PP 16-17
It began much like any other hospital visit with a neurology consult that had been requested on a patient who had suffered a stroke. The patient’s son was unhappy with the way his father was treated, though he never discussed his concerns directly with the neurologist. Within days, the son’s complaint escalated to a full-blown war, with letters sent to at least 10 medical organizations including the AAN and the American Neurological Association, and four physician-rating Web sites, followed by a defamation lawsuit, newspaper headlines, and national television exposure.
David McKee, MD, the Duluth, MN, neurologist, said he first learned of the family member’s grievance when a long-time patient came to his office and remarked, “I can’t believe what I read about you on the Internet today!” Before this happened, Dr. McKee was only vaguely aware that patient ratings Web sites existed. For the first time, he Googled his own name, and was stunned by what he discovered.
“An awful review popped up immediately, and within minutes, I found three nearly identical others,” he recalled. Dr. McKee said he soon learned, that over the course of recent weeks, his patient’s son had written an additional 14 letters of complaint to physicians, hospitals, as well as county, state, and national medical societies, and the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice. The son also contacted a reporter at the local newspaper and tried to get the local television stations to take an interest, drafting a total of 20 letters.
“The situation became much worse after the newspaper article came out,” Dr. McKee said. “I have a son in college, but three daughters, aged 10, 13, and 16 at home, and their friends found out through their parents. The children were very upset and felt blindsided…it was very unsettling.”
Dr. McKee, who described the complaints as inaccurate and unfair, said that when his lawyer requested that the patient’s son stop his campaign, he escalated to more serious complaints instead. The neurologist decided to sue for defamation, seeking in excess of $50,000 for damages including harm to reputation, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and a similar amount for interference with business.
In the defamation lawsuit that ensued, Dr. McKee’s complaint outlined, among other things, that the plaintiff falsely accused him of “blaming the patient” for the loss of his time, “scowling,” as well treating the family member as a “task and charting assignment” and without dignity.
“It’s a matter of principle for me,” said Dr. McKee, whose case is still pending. “In days past, a disgruntled family member might have complained, but now with the Internet, someone can actually do damage to your career,” he concluded.