Judge throws out doctor's defamation lawsuit

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Duluth neurologist who claimed he was defamed by a patient's son who criticized the doctor's bedside manner. Full Story
unbelievable

Eden Prairie, MN

#1 May 1, 2011
Besides that, neurologists are close-minded.

“"Molon Labe"”

Since: Oct 09

North Afghanistan

#2 May 1, 2011
gee....someone said this ego driven primate's bedside manners were lacking?

And he sued??

damm.....his little god complex got kicked in the shin.
Reddit

Duluth, MN

#3 May 20, 2011
The court summary judgment order is posted as a .pdf image at:

http://www.onpointnews.com/docs/Mckee-v-Lauri...
Right

Ashburn, VA

#4 May 20, 2011
Some Doc's figure they can say anything they want about a patient, true or not, your medical records are comprimised with electronic records most all medical staff has access to, but when the patient says something about the Doc, it is a crime. Sure, They are better than the average person. Some are egotistic, inconsiderate, non caring, in it for the Money freaks. And they Know who they are!
Thumbs up

Ashburn, VA

#5 May 20, 2011
For this Honorable Judge who can see things for what they really are, and isn't intimdated by a Doctor title.
Ben D

Duluth, MN

#6 Jul 4, 2011
BigBalls

Minneapolis, MN

#7 Jul 4, 2011
I thought it was the DOCTORS that were trying to end useless lawsuits.
This d1ckboy quack is gonna be a laughing stock at the country club now.
olofl.
Capt Crunch

Chandler, AZ

#8 Jul 4, 2011
BigBalls wrote:
I thought it was the DOCTORS that were trying to end useless lawsuits.
This d1ckboy quack is gonna be a laughing stock at the country club now.
olofl.
Big Ed ,Big Balls, Le Jumbo, 3 parrots, one voice
BigBalls

Minneapolis, MN

#9 Jul 4, 2011
Capt Crunch wrote:
<quoted text>
Big Ed ,Big Balls, Le Jumbo, 3 parrots, one voice
That's how I see it also.
Ha Ha

Minneapolis, MN

#10 Jul 4, 2011
Ha Ha, Ha Ha, Ha Ha. Finally, someone see's one of those high and mighty Doctor's for what they really are! Thank Goodness it was someone with power and not a patient. If it was a patient they would be labeled immediately and can forget about getting good medical care in the future. If they had to use a emergeny room, they better hope a accidently (on purpose) mistake isn't made on them. When you are labeled, your life is in danger any time you have to use a medical facility.
It would be nice

Saint Paul, MN

#11 Jul 14, 2011
To see someone with Power, knowledge and courage who would build a site on the internet where Doctors could be named when they treat their patients like crap, and there would be no way they could stop it. Just like when these Doctors put incorrect statements into patients files and make it difficult for these patients to get good medical care after they do so. There is No way to stop it. Once it goes in, it will never be removed reagrdless of how wrong it is. And most medical personel do not question the Doctors. All staff who have computer access at any Doctors office, Hospital or Specialty clinic can go into these electronic records and read anything they want in your file and you will never know unless they are reported by another co-worker, which is unlikely because now days they all think they have the right, from the front desk staff, to the schedulers. There is absolutely NO confidentiality with electronic records. They want you to think it is for your benefit but that is false when it stops you from getting good medical attention. Sure miss the Good ones who truly worked to help the patients and have moved on to research, etc.
Ben

Duluth, MN

#12 Sep 16, 2011
This case has been appealed and scheduled for a hearing by a panel of three judges. The oral hearing will be November 10, 2011, at 10:00 AM in the Sixth District Court House of Duluth.

http://macsnc.courts.state.mn.us/ctrack/view/...

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110629/034...
Tribune Reader

San Jose, CA

#13 Apr 2, 2013
ABBY SIMONS , Star Tribune, January 30, 2013

[ Dennis Laurion fired off his screed on a few rate-your-doctor websites in April 2010, along with some letters about what he saw as poor bedside manner by his father's neurologist. He expected at most what he calls a "non-apology apology. I really thought I'd receive something within a few days along the lines of 'I'm sorry you thought I was rude, that was not my intent.' I certainly did not expect to be sued."

He was. Dr. David McKee's defamation lawsuit was the beginning of a four-year legal battle that ended Wednesday when the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled the doctor had no legal claim against Laurion because there was no proof that his comments were false or were capable of harming the doctor's reputation.

The unanimous ruling reverses an earlier Appeals Court decision and brings to an end the closely watched case that brought to the forefront a First Amendment debate over the limits of free speech online.

It's a frustrating end for McKee, 51, who said he's spent at least $50,000 in legal fees and another $11,000 to clear his name online after the story went viral, resulting in hundreds more negative postings about him -- likely from people who never met him. He hasn't ruled out a second lawsuit stemming from those posts.

"The financial costs are significant, but money is money and five years from now I won't notice the money I spent on this," he said. "It's been the harm to my reputation through the repeated publicity and the stress."

The lawsuit followed the hospitalization of Laurion's father, Kenneth, for a hemorrhagic stroke at St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth. Laurion, his mother and his wife were also in the room when McKee examined the father and made the statements that Laurion interpreted as rude. After his father was discharged, he wrote the reviews and sent the letters.

On at least two sites, Laurion wrote that McKee said that "44 percent of hemorrhagic strokes die within 30 days. I guess this is the better option," and that "It doesn't matter that the patient's gown did not cover his backside."

Laurion also wrote: "When I mentioned Dr. McKee's name to a friend who is a nurse, she said,'Dr. McKee is a real tool!'"

Writing the opinion, Justice Alan Page noted that McKee acknowledged that the gist of some of the statements were true, even if they were misinterpreted. Page added that the "tool" statements also didn't pass the test of defaming McKee's character. He dismissed an argument by McKee's attorney, Marshall Tanick, that the "tool" comment was fabricated by Laurion and that the nurse never existed. Whether it was fabricated or not was irrelevant, the court ruled. "Referring to someone as 'a real tool' falls into the category of pure opinion because the term 'real tool' cannot be reasonably interpreted as stating a fact and it cannot be proven true or false," Page wrote.

Tanick said the ruling could present a slippery slope. "This decision gives individuals a license to make derogatory and disparaging statements about doctors, professionals and really anyone for that matter on the Internet without much recourse," he said.

Jane Kirtley disagreed. The professor of media ethics and law at the University of Minnesota School of Journalism said the ruling stems from "an elementary principle of libel law. I understand the rhetoric, but this is not a blank check for people to make false factual statements," she said. "Rather, it's an endorsement that statements of opinion are protected under the First Amendment." ]

http://www.startribune.com/local/189028521.ht...
Full article

http://comments.startribune.com/comments.php...
Comments
redeemer

Saint Paul, MN

#14 Apr 3, 2013
Interesting story,both parties have validity to their agruments.
Smart Judge

Saint Paul, MN

#15 Apr 6, 2013
Let's hope the next three with the appeal are as smart as this one. Somehow I get the nagging feeling the Doc will win, regardless of his behavior. If he does, it's his title and position that counts.
Dennis

Duluth, MN

#16 Apr 16, 2013
This entire experience has been distressing to my family. We were initially shocked and blindsided by ďjocularĒ comments made so soon after my fatherís stroke by somebody who didnít know us. We were overwhelmed by my being sued after posting a consumer opinion, and we were shocked by the rapidity with which it happened. It has been the 800 pound gorilla in the room. My parents would be 88-year-old witnesses. My mother and wife prefer no discussion, because they donít want to think about it. Conversation with my father only reminds him of his anger over this situation. My siblings and children donít often bring it up, because they donít know how to say anything helpful. I have been demoralized by three years of being called ďDefendant LaurionĒ in public documents. While being sued for defamation, I have been called a passive aggressive, an oddball, a liar, a coward, a bully, a malicious person, and a zealot family member. Iíve been said to have run a cottage industry vendetta, posting 108 adverse Internet postings in person or through proxies. Thatís not correct. In reality, I posted ratings at three consumer rating sites, deleted them, and never rewrote them again.

The plaintiffís first contact with me was a letter that said in part that he had the means and motivation to pursue me. The financial impact of being sued three years to date has been burdensome, a game of financial attrition that I havenít wanted to play. The suit cost me the equivalent of two yearís net income - the same as 48 of my car payments plus 48 of my house payments. My family members had to dip into retirement funds to help me.

After receipt of a threat letter, I deleted my rate-your-doctor site postings and sent confirmation emails to opposing counsel. Since May of 2010, postings on the Internet by others include newspaper accounts of the lawsuit; readersí remarks about the newspaper accounts; and blog opinion pieces written by doctors, lawyers, public relations professionals, patient advocates, and information technology experts. Dozens of websites by doctors, lawyers, patient advocates, medical students, law schools, consumer advocates, and free speech monitors posted opinions that a doctor or plumber shouldnít sue the family of a customer for a bad rating. These authors never said they saw my deleted ratings Ė only the news coverage. Newspaper stories have caused people to call or write me to relate their own medical experiences. Iíve referred them to my lawyers. Iíve also received encouragement from other persons who have been sued over accusations of libel or slander.

Medical peer newsletters or magazines that interviewed the plaintiff did not approach me. Websites maintained by doctors for doctors or lawyers for lawyers often suggested that I was a zealot family member or somebody who asked about my dadís chances and then shot the messenger. However, those websites echoed other websites in advising public relations responses other than a lawsuit - for fear of creating the "Streisand Effect." As a retired layman, I brought far less resources to the battle of financial attrition.

Iíve learned that laws about slander and libel do not conform to oneís expectations. Iíve read that online complaints are safe "if you stick to the facts." Thatís exactly the wrong advice. I did not want to merely post my conclusions. I wanted to stick to my recollection of what Iíd heard. I donít like to read generalities like ďIím upset. He did not treat my father well. He was insensitive. He didnít spend enough time in my opinion.Ē However, such generalities are excused as opinion, hyperbole, or angry utterances. If one purports to say what happened, factual recitations can be litigated. The plaintiff must prove the facts are willfully misstated, but the defendant can go broke while waiting through the effort.

I feel that defamation lawsuits are much too easy for wealthy plaintiffs. The plaintiff can lose the suit while winning the battle of financial attrition.

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