Doctor’s Lawsuit Against Former Patient’s Son For Negative Review Is Dismissed
A State Supreme Court Dismisses Doctor’s Lawsuit Against Former Patient’s Son for Defamation
In an interesting case from Minnesota, the state’s Supreme Court dismissed a doctor’s lawsuit against a man who left negative feedback about the doctor on a “rate-your-doctor” website. The man was the son of the doctor’s patient. The patient’s son was sued for defamation when he criticized the doctor’s bedside manner on an internet site.
Dennis Laurion criticized the bedside manner of his older father's doctor. Mr. Laurion posted to an online site that he believed his father's neurologist, Dr. David McKee, was rude. According to Mr. Laurion, he had hoped that posting his feedback regarding the doctor's manner would result in an apology. Instead, the doctor filed a defamation lawsuit against him.
A lengthy and expensive defamation battle
Dennis Laurion deleted the negative posts after he received the lawsuit. But the suit progressed. Ultimately, the case was litigated for nearly four years. Dr. McKee argued that the posts hurt his reputation and were untrue.
The Court ultimately held that the statements were opinion and that there was no evidence the doctor had suffered financially due to the posts. According to an article by the Star Tribune, the Minnesota Supreme Court ultimately dismissed the lawsuit. The Supreme Court held that saying the alleged defamatory statements were either protected opinion, substantially true, or were simply too vague to defame the doctor.
However, the victory was ultimately a costly one. It was reported that Dr. McKee spent more than $50,000 on the lawsuit. It was unclear how much money Mr. Laurion was forced to spend to defend himself from the action. Either way, it is an unfortunate situation in which two people litigated an issue for many years without a positive outcome for either one.