Thursday, March 07, 2013

Even after losing defamation suti, Dr. David McKee seems unaware that he has abused the legal system to torment Dennis Laurion for exercising his right to free speech

Even after losing his defamation lawsuit in the Minnesota Supreme Court, Dr. David McKee seems completely unaware that he has tormented a patient's family for discussing his bedside manner on the Internet. Dr. McKee also claims not to believe that a nurse described him as a "tool".

Many people would consider Dr. McKee to be cowardly and relentless to have dragged a man through the courts simply for taking advantage of his First Amendment rights. The financial resources of the doctor and the man he sued were vastly disparate.


Ticked Off Doctor Sues Patient's Son for Comments About Bedside Manner
By Trisha Torrey
About.com Guide
May 16, 2011

In April 2010, Kenneth Laurion, a man in his mid-80s from Duluth, Minnesota, suffered a stroke.

His doctor, Dr. David McKee, must have been a real S. O. B. - abrupt and rude at the very least. As a result, Mr. Laurion's son, Dennis, contacted the powers-that-be to complain. He recounted his experience to groups like the American Academy of Neurology, the American Neurological Association, two physicians in Duluth, Minnesota (where all this took place) the St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services Advisory Committee and St. Luke's hospital, and others - 19 in total.

Dennis Laurion told those groups that Dr. McKee (quoted here from the Duluth News Tribune):

. . . "seemed upset" that Kenneth Laurion had been transferred from the Intensive Care Unit to a ward room; that McKee told the Laurion family that he had to "spend time finding out if [the patient] had been transferred or died;" that McKee told the Laurions that 44 percent of hemorrhagic stroke victims die within 30 days; that McKee told the patient that he didn't need therapy; that McKee said it didn't matter that the patient's gown was hanging from his neck with his backside exposed; that McKee blamed the patient for the loss of his time; and that McKee didn't treat his patient with dignity.

In return, Dr. McKee got ticked off, defended his actions - and sued Dennis Laurion for making libelous statements.

But the judge dismissed the suit citing the fact that there was no evidence to show the doctor had been harmed, and stated that nothing defamatory had taken place - that his statements seemed to be more about an emotional discussion of the issues.

So what's the take-away for those of us who have had our own run-in with doctors? Plenty.

First - most of us have had our own experiences with arrogant and condescending doctors - doctors who are so full of themselves and their own lives that they treat us like dirt. They need a cummupence of their own. (For them I wish the karma of their own health challenges to give them some flavor of exactly what they are doing to their patients. No harm wished - just karma. They seem to learn really quickly that way.)

And yes - we have the right and perhaps even the obligation to complain, just as Dennis Laurion did. I've written before about how it's incumbent upon us to make sure the right people know how poorly we were treated. It's the only way to instill the necessary attitude adjustments. (If you think about it, I'll bet Dr. McKee will be a little more thoughtful the next time he wants to heap his S. O. B. -ness on another patient or loved one!) The only caveat is that we must recount exactly our experiences - not shade or embellish them. Report problems as if you were a journalist describing the experience - not the emotions, just the facts.

But I also remind you that nice doctors are not the same as competent doctors - and (as one of my twitter doctor friends reminds me) - competent doctors aren't always nice. Sometimes we just have to recognize that getting good medical care might require us to put up (in the short term) with this kind of arrogance, no matter how difficult and disconcerting it might be. That doesn't make it right. It just is what it is.

But the bottom line, to me, is this. . . . decent medical care requires a variety of skills from our doctors including the mechanics of medicine, and the respectful communications that go along with that, too. By reporting the transgressions of Dr. David McKee to those many groups he interfaces with, Dennis Laurion did Dr. McKee's future patients a favor.

Next time around, Dr. McKee will think twice before he accosts his patients and their families with his insulting and callous behavior. And that's as it should be.

February 10, 2013
(12) David McKee says:

Okay let me set you straight on a few things. First, Mr Laurion and I do not agree at all as to what was said and what happened. More importantly, Mr. Laurion (the son, not the patient) contradicted his account of what happened numerous times. No Trisha, I am not a real SOB as you have concluded based on accepting the statements which I sued Laurion over as truthful. If they were truthful I would not have brought the suit forward. Dennis Laurion is a sick malicious bully. He wrote several versions of what transpired in his father’s hospital room, each more slanderous and exaggerated than the last. As an example, in the earliest versions of Laurion’s description, he mentioned, accurately, that I helped his father to a standing position. A later version stated that I pulled his father out of bed; still later that I jerked his father against a closed bedrail and against his will.

[Maura Larkins note: All three versions could be true. Since the father was unhappy to be standing in his skimpy gown, and he knew what kind of gown it was before he got up, it seems quite likely that he was not willing to get up. But really, why make such a big deal out of this sort of thing? Sometimes a doctor does have to demand that a patient stand up so that he knows how well the patient can stand. And it's quite likely that a doctor would not want to use his well-educated hands to tie a dressing gown on a patient--I'm not saying I approve this attitude, just that I think it's a common one.]

Laurion also complained that I humiliated his father by not tying the back of his father’s hospital gown. In fact, Dennis Laurion was sitting in a chair on the same side of his father’s bed as the patient. He would have needed only to lean forward a little to reach the ties of the gown. I was on the opposite side of the bed and could not have reached the back of the gown if I had wanted to.

After I left the patient’s room I was sitting at a nurses station only 30 feet from where Dennis Laurion was sitting and in plain sight. He could have discussed any concern with me then without the slightest difficulty. Instead he chose to begin his smear campaign against me. He fired off 19 letters of complaint within the next few days.

He tried for several weeks to get the local media outlets interested; none would have anything to do with him until he met up with Mark Stodghill of the Duluth News Tribune. The two of them met several times over a 2 week period to come up with a great doctor bashing piece of propaganda. Stodghill placed a call to my office at 4:55 p.m. on a Friday. I was not on call and had left for the day. This was the only attempt he made to contact me. The newspaper article came out only 10 hours later. Still the one half hearted attempt to reach me allowed the reporter to accurately state that “calls to Dr. McKee were not returned”, implying that I had something to hide. The article was so biased that of approximately 80 conversations with patients who brought up the matter, only 2 understood that I was suing Laurion; the rest misunderstood and believed I was being sued by Laurion.

I have been the victim of a cowardly relentless series of attacks by a truly sick human being. The fact that you appear to always assume that if a complaint is made against a physician, the physician must be in the wrong, makes you little better than Mark Stodghill who was willing to use the lowest possible journalistic standards seemingly designed to get the story wrong so as to allow for the most inflammatory headline possible.

21 comments:

Tribune Reader said...

[quote] He tried for several weeks to get the local media outlets interested; none would have anything to do with him until he met up with Mark Stodghill of the Duluth News Tribune. The two of them met several times over a 2 week period to come up with a great doctor bashing piece of propaganda. Stodghill placed a call to my office at 4:55 p.m. on a Friday. I was not on call and had left for the day. This was the only attempt he made to contact me. The newspaper article came out only 10 hours later. Still the one half hearted attempt to reach me allowed the reporter to accurately state that “calls to Dr. McKee were not returned”, implying that I had something to hide. The article was so biased that of approximately 80 conversations with patients who brought up the matter, only 2 understood that I was suing Laurion; the rest misunderstood and believed I was being sued by Laurion. I have been the victim of a cowardly relentless series of attacks by a truly sick human being. The fact that you appear to always assume that if a complaint is made against a physician, the physician must be in the wrong, makes you little better than Mark Stodghill who was willing to use the lowest possible journalistic standards seemingly designed to get the story wrong so as to allow for the most inflammatory headline possible. [/quote]

This is from the Duluth News Tribune of August 2, 2013:

In tribute: Stodghill fair, accurate — always

Duluth News Tribune, Published August 02, 2013, 12:00 AM

News Tribune police and courts reporter Mark Stodghill retires today after more than 30 years at the paper. Several leaders from the law enforcement and legal communities share their thoughts on his work and legacy.

By: Ross Litman, for the News Tribune
Ross Litman is St. Louis County sheriff.

Retiring News Tribune reporter Mark Stodghill is someone I trust and respect and will miss.

During the 11 years our careers crossed paths, he was fair and, more importantly, he was accurate in every story he covered and every article he wrote.

It’s not that he was an easy interviewer or soft on the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office. Mark challenged us with delving questions, and then would ask difficult follow-up questions rather than just take our word for it.

Mark fostered his relationship with the criminal justice partners and maintained constant communication with the sheriff’s office. He could be trusted with comments both on and off the record, and he worked harder and did more legwork to dig up stories than anyone. We knew we could count on his story to be fact-based.

When you read Mark’s stories you knew you were reading the truth, even though the truth is not always pleasant. He didn’t make things up, go on a witch hunt or pursue a particular angle for the sake of winning an award from some oblique news organization.

He was not afraid to remind me that certain information and data were required to be released under Chapter 13. On rare occasions we would argue or disagree, but it never affected our personal or professional relationship.

From him, I learned a lot about the journalism business: the pressures from publishers, editors and even the public, as well as the changes that came with the advent of the Internet and social media. The old dinosaur evolved with it.

Mark is a very humble man. He has a tremendous memory for sports trivia and is an incredible athlete. His passion for running marathons puts the stereotype of “gumshoe reporter” to shame.

He leaves behind very big shoes to fill for whichever reporter has the unfortunate task of trying to follow in his highly respected footsteps.

Archived from: http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/event/article/id/274072/

Anonymous said...

In tribute: The best reporters tell a good story in a fair way
Duluth News Tribune, Published August 02, 2013, 12:00 AM

By: Fred Friedman, for the News Tribune
Fred Friedman is the Northeastern Minnesota chief public defender.

Mark Stodghill and I go back a long way. Long before Mark covered courts and crime for the News Tribune, we shared stories and interests in baseball, basketball, nonfiction books and the complications of father-son relationships, both in terms of our fathers and our sons. We have friends in common for the past 40 years.

I saw Mark gain interest in running and lose interest in professional sports. I followed Mark’s career going from a writer to a columnist to a writer. I miss Mark’s columns, both the ones that were popular and the ones when he got ripped (a Stodghill slang word, incidentally).

As a writer covering the courts beat, he had a tough job. Court cases are all about advocacy, and everyone including me thinks they have the corner on fairness and justice. Avoiding saying something foolish is always the No. 1 goal. Mark was good at understanding our job but never forgetting his.

The best writers, including Mark, tell a good story in a fair way and always invite comment from the participants before publication. I know he endeavored to be fair and thorough. I do not believe some copy editors and headline writers Mark worked with always shared that commitment. I always have wondered how many reporters, including Mark, resented headline writers who missed the point and copy editors who sliced up a story beyond recognition, either looking for sensationalism or looking to save an inch.

Finally, Mark Stodghill enjoyed a youth that most men could only imagine. He was a schoolboy pitching star; bat boy for the Minnesota Twins, including during the 1965 World Series and All Star Game; and was up-close and personal with Twins greats Harmon Killebrew (Mark’s favorite, after his father), Tony Oliva and Rod Carew and with baseball greats Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax and more. He also was a ball boy for the Minnesota Vikings, a Vietnam-era U.S. Air Force veteran and a college basketball star who sometimes got to write on anything he wanted, earning the respect of his peers and friends.

Hard to top any of that.

Archived from: http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/event/article/id/274076/

Anonymous said...

In tribute: A talented, old-school journalist retires

Duluth News Tribune, Published August 02, 2013, 12:00 AM

By: Gordon Ramsay, for the News Tribune
Gordon Ramsay is Chief of the Duluth Police Department.

Mark Stodghill, a talented, old-school journalist with a conscience, will walk out the doors of the News Tribune today for the last time and into retirement.

He’s a fascinating guy who has done a lot in his life and who has covered a lot of different beats since the 1970s. For the past 15 years or so he covered police and courts. When horrible crime and its impacts on families and communities happened, Mark usually was there.

For the first time in many years, Mark Stodghill’s familiar name will not appear in a byline. He will no longer have to try to interview grieving family or be accused of demonizing a family member who committed a crime.

I know Mark worked diligently to always be fair to victims and suspects alike. When a family member or friend was upset with a story he wrote, Mark took it to heart. He cared about getting his stories right and worked diligently to ensure they were accurate.

He would sometimes tell me about incidents where upset family members had contacted him and accused him of shedding bad light on their loved one. He was bothered by this element of his job; I would attribute that to his strong character.

No one could ever accuse Mark of being a sensationalist writer. Rather, he’s a talented, old-school journalist with a conscience who won’t be easily replaced.

Congratulations, Mark, you will be missed.

Archived from: http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/event/article/id/274075/

Also from the Duluth News Tribune:

In tribute: Stodghill a reporter with the utmost integrity

Duluth News Tribune, Published August 02, 2013, 12:00 AM

By: Mark S. Rubin, for the News Tribune.
Mark S. Rubin is St. Louis County attorney.

I learned recently Iceland is rewriting its constitution. The primary agreed-upon theme is, of course, liberty. The second primary principle is responsibility. Interesting, don’t you think? I will bet that to our Founding Fathers, “responsibility” was considered a given in our Constitution, and it wasn’t necessary to make specific mention of it.

A free press is a critical component for preserving and growing our still-evolving democracy. Today News Tribune journalist Mark Stodghill retires. He has practiced his craft with the utmost of integrity and responsibility. Just ask anyone who has worked in the courts and criminal justice system over the last 35 years; they will tell you Mark was respectfully relentless in his efforts to get his stories right.

We are a better-informed community, our liberty is stronger, and our citizens are more enlightened and thus empowered because of Mark’s recognition and understanding of his responsibility to his craft. His goal was to report the truth — the facts — about some of the most tragic and difficult stories imaginable. Time and time again he succeeded.

Mark Stodghill is a Vietnam veteran deserving of our gratitude, a marathon athlete who leaves us in awe, and a husband and father who loves and cares deeply. And yes, he is a journalist who saw, accepted and carried out his responsibility to his fellow citizens in our sometimes-fragile democracy. He is and will continue to be the standard for the next generation to follow.

And so, on behalf of the County Attorney’s Office and the good citizens of St. Louis County, thank you, Mark. Enjoy your well-deserved retirement, and we wish you the best.

Archived from: http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/event/article/id/274073/group/Opinion/

McKee V Laurion said...

After David McKee MD v Dennis Laurion was dismissed by the Minnesota Supreme Court, the plaintiff wrote to Patient Advocate Trisha Torrey to express his feelings. You have quoted the plaintiff's initial remarks. The defendant's rebuttal and Torrey's response caused a disjointed three way argument on Tricia Torrey's. Nobody confined their responses to the same webpage, but the conversation is compiled in order at http://www.instablogg.com/vCTm2uM.

The last link above contains Trisha's three postings, the plaintiffs remarks, the defendants remarks, and postings of third parties. Their serves and returns can be seen below or read altogether at http://www.instablogg.com/vCTm2uM .

February 7, 2013, Dennis Laurion says:

Trisha, thanks for your coverage of David McKee vs. Dennis Laurion.

“The reason Mr. Laurion didn't lose the suit was because he related facts and observations - not opinions and generalities. That's the real hot water test. The difference between recounting opinions vs facts can be the difference between winning and losing a defamation lawsuit.”

I've learned that laws about slander and libel do not conform to one's expectations. I've read that online complaints are safe "if you stick to the facts." That's exactly the wrong advice – at least in Minnesota. I did not want to merely post my conclusions. I wanted to stick to my recollection of what I'd heard. I don't like to read generalities like “I’m upset. He did not treat my father well. He was insensitive. He didn’t spend enough time in my opinion.” However, such generalities are excused as opinion, hyperbole, or angry utterances. Had the Minnesota Supreme Court concluded that I offered facts, I’d be awaiting jury trial. It was, I believe, the conclusion that I’d offered opinions that caused dismissal.

“He wrote reviews of Dr. McKee on 19 different websites, reporting, according to a Duluth (MN) news article in April 2011 ”

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. I’ve been said to have run a cottage industry vendetta, writing 19 letters, and posting 108 or 118 adverse Internet postings in person or through proxies. That’s not correct. In reality, I posted ratings at three consumer rating sites, deleted them, and never rewrote them again. Several newspapers accounts have repeated assertions about how many letters I wrote and how many reviews I wrote. You’ll find accusations that I wrote 108 or 118 subsequent postings. You’ll find remarks that most were traced to a single IP address in Duluth. It wasn’t mine, and my internet provider tells me that nobody has ever asked about my IP address.

“No matter what you think of the outcome of this lawsuit, know that it cost Dr. McKee more than $60,000 out of his pocket, including his attempt to try to repair his reputation.”

The plaintiff’s 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 haven’t wanted to play. The suit cost me the equivalent of two year's 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.

McKee V Laurion said...

Continued from http://www.instablogg.com/vCTm2uM

February 7, 2013 at 8:25 am Trisha Torrey says:

Dennis, Thank you for contributing to this report. I have corrected the statement about your father’s life and apologize for getting that wrong. Re: your report on how many comments were made, who made them, etc — you have enlightened us all…. And it proves exactly what I was saying – we cannot assume that anything we write online, especially through anger or frustration, can’t be tested at unlimited cost. The power still remains with the monied and we can’t forget that.

February 10, 2013 at 11:27 pm, David McKee says:

Okay let me set you straight on a few things. First, Mr Laurion and I do not agree at all as to what was said and what happened. More importantly, Mr. Laurion (the son, not the patient) contradicted his account of what happened numerous times. No Trisha, I am not a real SOB as you have concluded based on accepting the statements which I sued Laurion over as truthful. If they were truthful I would not have brought the suit forward. Dennis Laurion is a sick malicious bully. He wrote several versions of what transpired in his father’s hospital room, each more slanderous and exaggerated than the last. As an example, in the earliest versions of Laurion’s description, he mentioned, accurately, that I helped his father to a standing position. A later version stated that I pulled his father out of bed; still later that I jerked his father against a closed bedrail and against his will.

Laurion also complained that I humiliated his father by not tying the back of his father’s hospital gown. In fact, Dennis Laurion was sitting in a chair on the same side of his father’s bed as the patient. He would have needed only to lean forward a little to reach the ties of the gown. I was on the opposite side of the bed and could not have reached the back of the gown if I had wanted to.
After I left the patient’s room I was sitting at a nurses station only 30 feet from where Dennis Laurion was sitting and in plain sight. He could have discussed any concern with me then without the slightest difficulty. Instead he chose to begin his smear campaign against me. He fired off 19 letters of complaint within the next few days.
He tried for several weeks to get the local media outlets interested; none would have anything to do with him until he met up with Mark Stodghill of the Duluth News Tribune. The two of them met several times over a 2 week period to come up with a great doctor bashing piece of propaganda. Stodghill placed a call to my office at 4:55 p.m. on a Friday. I was not on call and had left for the day. This was the only attempt he made to contact me. The newspaper article came out only 10 hours later. Still the one half hearted attempt to reach me allowed the reporter to accurately state that “calls to Dr. McKee were not returned”, implying that I had something to hide. The article was so biased that of approximately 80 conversations with patients who brought up the matter, only 2 understood that I was suing Laurion; the rest misunderstood and believed I was being sued by Laurion.
I have been the victim of a cowardly relentless series of attacks by a truly sick human being. The fact that you appear to always assume that if a complaint is made against a physician, the physician must be in the wrong, makes you little better than Mark Stodghill who was willing to use the lowest possible journalistic standards seemingly designed to get the story wrong so as to allow for the most inflammatory headline possible.

McKee V Laurion said...

Continued from http://www.instablogg.com/vCTm2uM

By Trisha Torrey, About.com Guide, February 11, 2013

Last week, I followed up on the final Minnesota Supreme Court verdict in the lawsuit where Dr. David McKee, a neurologist, sued his patient's son, Kenneth Laurion, who was so unhappy with Dr. McKee's treatment of his father, that he posted negative reviews all over the internet, citing Dr. McKee's arrogance.

And Dr. McKee is NOT happy with the verdict, or my assessment of it. In fact, he is so unhappy that he posted comments to the original post from 2011 where I told you about the lawsuit when the first court reached a verdict. Because that post is so old, and therefore few would ever see the comments, I wanted to bring to your attention just what he said.

And here is my reply to Dr. McKee:
This is strictly "he said, he said" - and it cannot be recreated or witnessed. That means we are left with the perceptions of the two people involved and, truthfully, neither one of you gets big points for handling this well.

However, YOU are the professional. As such, part of your responsibility is to communicate clearly and with enough compassion and empathy that your patients and their loved ones don't misunderstand (or mis-translate) what you have said, decided, ordered or done.
Look - I can understand that you were upset at what he said about what he perceived as your arrogance. But as is true in any form of communication - perception is the receiver's reality. Had you not come across as brusque, callous, disrespectful, arrogant, or any other adjective for disconnected one can use, Mr. Laurion would not have pursued a public punishment for you.

And when he did, I dare say, fixing it would have required only an apology from you, whether or not you agreed with his perception. Two words, "I'm sorry," would have made a world of difference.

Would that have been so difficult? Evidently, yes. The fact that you are now calling him names as if you were both in middle school speaks volumes. Even if Mr. Laurion is a bully, that must have been triggered by something. So instead of taking care of it the way a professional should, you instead chose to escalate the problem. Unprofessional and undignified.

Sadly (from your perspective), instead you have become the poster boy for doctors who don't communicate well, providing a lesson for all doctors who arrogantly treat their patients and families like second-class citizens. You may have outstanding neurology skills (I have no idea if you do or don't), but if you can't communicate respectfully, clearly and with empathy, then your skills as a physician are lacking, and your patients and their families are not being well-served.

McKee V Laurion said...

Continued from http://www.instablogg.com/vCTm2uM

February 11, 2013 at 11:47 am, Dennis Laurion says:

“Dennis Laurion was sitting in a chair on the same side of his father’s bed as the patient. He would have needed only to lean forward a little to reach the ties of the gown.”

While my father was lying down, and when he was seated, I was unaware that the back string was untied. It was my father who mentioned his parting gown. We then insisted on leaving the room to wait in the hall.

“I have been the victim of a cowardly relentless series of attacks by a truly sick human being.”

McKee has learned to exercise his own free-speech rights. In earlier responses to publicity, I’ve been called an oddball sort of fellow, passive-aggressive, liar, bully, coward, and malicious person.

I think somebody should have told McKee about the Streisand Effect.

I feel that I have been the victim of a game of financial attrition that I haven’t wanted to play.

” As an example, in the earliest versions of Laurion’s description, he mentioned, accurately, that I helped his father to a standing position. A later version stated that I pulled his father out of bed; still later that I jerked his father against a closed bedrail and against his will.”

In my postings to the public, I stopped short of details that would have embarrassed my father but shared those details with a state agency. McKee is apparently including my comments to a state agency, while insisting he didn’t sue me for those contacts.

“He fired off 19 letters of complaint within the next few days.”

McKee is apparently including letters that I wrote as a response to his suit.

“He tried for several weeks to get the local media outlets interested; none would have anything to do with him until he met up with Mark Stodghill of the Duluth News Tribune. The two of them met several times over a 2 week period to come up with a great doctor bashing piece of propaganda.”

When McKee sent a threat letter, I asked 3 local media outlets if such a suit would be a “man bites dog” story. I never mentioned McKee’s name and would not have, had there been no suit. In spite of follow-up inquiries by the press, I demurred giving his name until a public record existed. On the day of filing, Mr. Stodghill found the public record without my prompting and ran the story. Mr Stodghill contacted me once by email and once by phone. We did not meet over any time period, and I did not recognize Mr. Stodghill, who was covering my first court appearance.

McKee V Laurion said...

Continued from http://www.instablogg.com/vCTm2uM

February 12, 2013 at 11:19 pm, David McKee says:

Trisha, just read the first sentence of your post. You concluded by the fact that Laurion Made disparaging (and inaccurate) comments and complaints that “…Dr McKee must have been a real SOB, abrupt and rude at the very least” You had no grounds for such an emphatic conclusion. The conclusion is reasonable only if you somehow know the statements made by Laurion are accurate. The fact that I brought a lawsuit against him for inaccurately portraying my interaction with his father should cast enough doubt to preclude your statement presented as fact. You also concluded that because I responded to your defamatory statement I proved your original premise….HUH???

So the doctor is wrong because Laurion says he behaved poorly and the doctor is wrong again because he responds to your unfounded and malignant comments. Nice.
As for Laurion’s recent responses they are inaccurate and very disingenuous and he knows it.

He did file 19 letters of complaint based on an innocuous interaction with his father; including 2 complaints to the MN Board of Medical Practice. The second was filed as if written by his wife; though in deposition his wife acknowledged Laurion wrote both letters (the second was an exaggeration of the first; neither resulted in any action by the board). There is substantial evidence that on learning that his original motion to dismiss was going to be acted on favorably he and others encouraged by Laurion, made roughly 120 negative entries on various doctor rating sites. This occurred in a 2 day period and before the court’s decision was made public. There is no chance that this was action taken by actual patients or that it occurred spontaneously. Yes I think the term bully is, if anything an understatement.

As for Laurion’s suggestion that he is somehow a victim of a game of financial attrition. He was given multiple opportunities to settle without financial demands. When he was deposed he acknowledged that he went back on the offensive despite the very early option of settling at essentially no cost. The 120 March 2011 postings will likely form the basis of a second suit. Laurion has repeatedly refused to guarantee that he will not engage in further slander so I really have no option here. One of the great injustices is that people like you assume the physician must be at fault and are willing to attack without bothering to investigate. Your illogical deductions are not investigation. In the end, the negative commentary sticks to the physician as a permanent aspect of his reputation whereas people like you profit whether your statements are accurate or not. For Laurion to cast himself as the victim of my responses is cynical beyond measure.

Since you choose to reach your conclusions by inference you might chew on this. I have been in practice for 22 years. I have evaluated over 20,000 patients during that time. I estimate that, on average I have met one family member for each patient. Conservatively that makes 40,000 patients and family members. Dennis Laurion’s 19 letters of complaint amount to 75% of the complaints I have received in total vs. hundreds of letters thanks, gratitude etc. But it is primarily Laurion’s mischief that shows up when patients, friends, family research my name.

Trisha, I think it is your arrogance that is the real problem here. You are so self certain that you can determine right and wrong by inference that investigation is not needed. I am not going to make any further posts on this site but you need to clean up your act.


February 21, 2013 at 3:03 pm, dennis says:

“Mr Laurion and I do not agree at all as to what was said and what happened.”

I agree.

Anonymous said...

"losing defamation suti" should be "losing defamation suit."

Herb Rice said...

TWIN CITIES BUSINESS
The Top Lawsuits Of 2013
by Steve Kaplan
December 20, 2013

Never Shout "He's a Tool!" On a Crowded Website?

Dr. David McKee, a Duluth neurologist, was not laughing when he saw what one former client wrote about him on a doctor-rating website. The reviewer, Dennis Laurion, complained that McKee made statements that he interpreted as rude and quoted a nurse who had called the doctor “a real tool.” As these statements echoed through the Internet, McKee felt his reputation was being tarnished. He sued, and so began a four-year journey that ended this year in the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Laurion was unhappy with the way McKee treated his father, who was brought to the doctor after he had a stroke. Laurion went to several rate-your-doctor sites to give his opinion. That’s just free speech, isn’t it?

It sure is, says Laurion’s attorney, John D. Kelly of the Duluth firm Hanft Fride. “The court held that what my client was quoted as saying was not defamatory,” he says. “I do think the Internet makes it much easier for persons exercising poor judgment to broadcast defamatory statements, however… a medium… doesn’t change the quality of a statement from non-defamatory to defamatory.”

But McKee’s lawyer, Marshall Tanick, of Hellmuth & Johnson, says no matter where it was said, defamation is defamation. “The thing that’s often misunderstood is that this was not just about free speech, but about making actual false statements,” Tanick says. “The problem is today’s unfettered opportunity to express opinion, whether or not the substance of what’s said is true or not. We need some boundaries.”

But boundaries were not on the minds of the Minnesota Supreme Court. Free speech was. Chief Justice Lorie Gildea wrote, “The point of the post is, ‘This doctor did not treat my father well.’ I can’t grasp why that wouldn’t be protected opinion.” As to referring to the doctor as “a real tool,” Justice Alan Page wrote that the insult “falls into the category of pure opinion because the term … cannot be reasonably interpreted as a fact and it cannot be proven true or false.”

The takeaway from this case might be the knowledge that behind any rating service lie real people with real feelings. McKee spent more than $60,000 in the effort to clear his name, as he saw it. Dennis Laurion told the Star Tribune he spent the equivalent of two years’ income, some of which he had to borrow from relatives who supplied the money by raiding their retirement funds.

Laurion said...

In spite of Supreme Court disagreement and subsequent peer disagreement, Marshall Tanick is STILL saying about David McKee MD v. Dennis Laurion: "The thing that’s often misunderstood is that THIS WAS NOT JUST ABOUT FREE SPEECH, BUT ABOUT MAKING ACTUAL FALSE STATEMENTS. The problem is today’s unfettered opportunity to express opinion, whether or not the substance of what’s said is true or not. We need some boundaries."

From the American Health Lawyers Association: IN THIS CASE, THE COURT FOUND THE SIX ALLEGEDLY DEFAMATORY STATEMENTS WERE NOT ACTIONABLE BECAUSE THE “SUBSTANCE, THE GIST, THE STING” OF PLAINTIFF’S VERSION FOR EACH OF THE STATEMENTS AS PROVIDED IN DEPOSITION AND DEFENDANT’S VERSION ESSENTIALLY CARRIED THE SAME MEANING, satisfied the standard for substantial truth, did not show a tendency to harm the plaintiff’s reputation and lower his estimation in the community, or were incapable of conveying a defamatory meaning (e.g., when a nurse told defendant that plaintiff was “a real tool”) based on “how an ordinary person understands the language used in the light of surrounding circumstances.”

From the Business Insurance Blog: THE MINNESOTA HIGH COURT SAID, FOR INSTANCE, THAT DR. MCKEE’S VERSION OF HIS COMMENT ABOUT THE INTENSIVE CARE UNIT WAS SUBSTANTIALLY SIMILAR TO MR. LAURION’S. “In other words, Dr. McKee’s account of what he said would produce the same effect on the mind of the reader,” the court said. “The minor inaccuracies of expression (in the statement) as compared to Dr. McKee’s version of what he said do not give rise to a genuine issue as to falsity.”

From the Duane Morris Media Blog: The doctor said in his deposition that with regard to finding out if Mr. Laurion was alive or dead, “I made a jocular comment… to the effect of I had looked for [Kenneth Laurion] up there in the intensive care unit and was glad to find that, when he wasn’t there, that he had been moved to a regular hospital bed, because you only go one of two ways when you leave the intensive care unit; you either have improved to the point where you’re someplace like this or you leave because you’ve died.” THE COURT SAID THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO VERSIONS OF THE STATEMENTS ABOUT DEATH OR TRANSFER BY BOTH PLAINTIFF AND DEFENDANT WERE SO MINOR THAT THERE WAS NO FALSITY IN THE WEBSITE POSTINGS. In other words, the court indicated that the allegation about the statement was true.

Harry Nevus said...

David McKee, M.D., a Duluth, Minn., neurologist, was unaware of the Streisand phenomenon at the time he decided to sue Dennis Laurion. Laurion’s father, Kenneth, had suffered a stroke in April 2010; McKee was called in to assess Kenneth’s condition.

According to the Laurions, McKee was oblivious to Kenneth’s modesty. “His son was right there,” McKee counters. “If he was concerned about the gown, he didn’t get out of his chair to tie it.”

Dennis Laurion consulted with his family to see if his impression of the arrogant doctor was real or imagined. He fired off a dozen or more letters to a variety of medical institutions, including the hospital’s ombudsman, the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, Medicare, and the American Medical Association.

McKee sued Laurion for defamation. A local Duluth newspaper picked up on the story, favoring Laurion’s interpretation of events.

In April 2011, the judge granted Laurion’s motion for summary judgment, ruling his comments were protected free speech. A user on Reddit.com posted the newspaper story. Almost overnight, dozens of “reviews” popped up on RateMDs.com and other sites with outlandish commentary on McKee, who was referred to as “the dickface doctor of Duluth.”

McKee found no easy way to exit the situation. “You get drawn in,” he says, suggesting his lawyer nudged him into further action. “It’s throwing good money after bad. … I wanted out almost as soon as I got in, and it was always, ‘Well, just one more step.’” McKee appealed, and the summary judgment was overturned. The case, and the measurable impact of being labeled a “real tool,” was now headed for the Minnesota Supreme Court.

McKee was rated for several years as a top provider in Duluth Superior Magazine, but “From now until the end of time, I’ll be the jerk neurologist who was rude to a World War II veteran,” the physician says. “I’m stuck with it forever.”

Full article:
http://www.buzzfeed.com/jakerossen/insult-and-injury-inside-the-webs-one-sided-war-on-doctors

Laurion said...

"Insult And Injury: How Doctors Are Losing The War Against Trolls"

As one of the “trolls” detailed in the article, I have no issue with the accuracy of the text - at least as it pertains to me - but the tone of the title fails to distinguish sincere complaints about bedside manner from attacks on mental stability, attacks on medical prowess, fake websites, allegations of dangerous injections, and use of multiple identities. The author said “McKee and Laurion agree on substance…”

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. I’ve been said to have run a cottage industry vendetta, posting 108 adverse Internet postings in person or through proxies. That’s not correct. In reality, I posted ratings at three consumer rating sites, deleted them, and never rewrote them again.

The plaintiff’s 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 haven’t wanted to play. The suit cost me the equivalent of two year’s 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; readers’ 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 shouldn’t sue the family of a customer for a bad rating. These authors never said they saw my deleted ratings – only the news coverage.

Harry Nevus said...

“DOC’S DEFAMATION LAWSUIT: THE PATIENT’S SIDE”
PHYSICIANS WEEKLY BY SKEPTICAL SCALPEL

Are you familiar with a case in Minnesota where a doctor sued a patient’s son for defamation over a negative review he posted? Dr. David McKee’s defamation lawsuit recently came up again because BuzzFeed posted an article entitled “Insult And Injury: How Doctors Are Losing The War Against Trolls.” (The Jake Rossen article - http://www.buzzfeed.com/jakerossen/insult-and-injury-inside-the-webs-one-sided-war-on-doctors - would appear here but is deleted because SOMEBODY posted it above.)

I tweeted a link to that article, and Dennis Laurion, whose father was the patient in the Minnesota, case wrote to me. (Laurion's reply to Jake Rossen’s article would be here, but it was posted above already.)

Correspondence of Skeptical Scalpel and Dennis K. Laurion:

[Scalpel] I very much appreciate your email and the clarification of your situation. I hope you realize that I personally took no side in the dispute you had with Dr. McKee.

[Laurion] Thanks, Doctor, for the courtesy of your reply. I do realize that you just tweeted the existence of the article.

[Scalpel] Most of the stories about your case tended to sympathize with the doctor and, his defamation suit brought far more attention to him and his behavior than if he had simply let it go. Is the litigation completely over?

[Laurion] Yes. For a while, the plaintiff threatened in settlement demands, to sue me for 500+ remarks made on Reddit.com. His “proof” was that most of the remarks came from Duluth, and I live in Duluth; he also lives and works in Duluth. He threatened to subpoena IP numbers and sue every poster, presumably all my relatives and friends, if I didn’t settle. I hadn’t posted to Reddit, I don’t know anybody who did, and nobody ever asked my ISP for my IP number or browsing history.

[Scalpel] Did you win the case?

[Laurion] I won dismissal from the Minnesota Supreme Court; he won the right to make me spend $56K I didn’t have. Minnesota allows “hip pocket lawsuits.” The plaintiff served me but didn’t file in court. He almost immediately asked my insurance company for a settlement, apology, and confidentiality agreement. This lawsuit was apparently supposed to last 3 weeks and never be filed in court; however, my insurance company doesn’t offer me defamation coverage, and I filed my reply through the court, putting the suit into public record and the attention of newspapers.

[Scalpel] Do you have any recourse as far as say, counter-suing Dr. McKee?

[Laurion] No. In Minnesota, each party is responsible for their own legal fees. Dr. McKee had to reimburse me about $2000 of filing fees and printing costs. I’d have contemplated a suit for abuse of process, but the Appellate Court’s decision not to dismiss tended to dilute my complaint.

[Scalpel] Are you familiar with strategic lawsuit against public participation lawsuits? If I recall correctly, your case took place in Minnesota which has an anti-SLAPP law.

[Laurion] I wanted my lawyer to file a SLAPP motion, but Minnesota SLAPP law only applies to actions that are wholly or in part government petitions. The plaintiff’ only charged me for my internet rating site reviews and mention of my letter to the Medicare Ombudsman, the County Health Department, or the Minnesota Board of Medical Review; however, my comments to those sources were quoted in briefs and newspaper comments.

Reference: http://www.physiciansweekly.com/docs-defamation-lawsuit-patients-side/

Skeptical Scalpel is a retired surgeon and was a surgical department chairma

Uranus said...

UW-Whitewater professor sues student over postings

By Associated Press 22 May 2014

A University of Wisconsin-Whitewater professor is suing a former graduate student who posted online comments and videos that the teacher considers defamatory.

Anthony Llewellyn took a class last year from communications professor Sally Vogl-Bauer, but the experience didn't go well.

Llewellyn posted comments on professor-rating sites accusing the teacher of criticizing his academic abilities, grading him unfairly and causing him to fail out of school. He said he spoke with her in April about his concerns, two months before he was told he had failed her class.

Vogl-Bauer contends the comments amount to defamation, while Llewellyn says his goal was simply to inform the public about how the professor treated him.

Tim Edwards, the attorney representing Vogl-Bauer, said the comments could be especially damaging to someone in a small professional community. He said he and Vogl-Bauer agree that students should be allowed to express their opinions, "but when you go so far beyond that, into a concerted effort to attack somebody's reputation because things didn't go your way, that's much different."
Edwards and Vogl-Bauer asked Llewellyn to take down his online comments and videos. They filed the lawsuit after he refused.

Llewellyn said it's important for the videos and comments to stay online so the public can remain informed.

It's not clear how successful the lawsuit will be, but a similar case in Minnesota ended with a ruling in favor of the person who posted the online rating. In the case (David McKee MD vs Dennis Laurion), a doctor took offense when a patient's son went on a rate-your-doctor website and called him "a real tool," slang for stupid or foolish. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in January 2013 that the comment wasn't defamatory because it was an opinion protected by free-speech rights.

Dennis Laurion said...

I send my best wishes to Anthony Llewellyn, just as I continue to send my best wishes to blogger Maura Larkins.

Dennis Laurion said...

I send my best wishes to Anthony Llewellyn, just as I continue to send my best wishes to blogger Maura Larkins.

Court Watch said...

Timothy Edwards comments about Ms. Sally Vogl-Bauer's intentions to welcome criticism but sue defamation cause me to think defamation plaintiff lawyers must use templates for talking to the press.

Professor Sally Vogl-Bauer's lawyer, Timothy [[ Edwards released a statement: “Students have a right to express their opinion, but when you go so far beyond that, into a concerted effort to attack somebody’s reputation because things didn’t go your way, that’s much different.” ]]

[[ “When you make false statements of fact repeatedly about another person with the intent of harming them, that’s over the line,” said Tim Edwards, attorney for UW-Whitewater communications professor Sally Vogl-Bauer. “If you truthfully say, ‘In my experience, this isn’t a good teacher, I didn’t have a good experience, she was late’ and that’s your opinion,
that’s fair,” Edwards said. ]]

A Duluth News Tribune article of June 2010 quoted Marshall Tanick, now employed by Hellmuth Johnson law firm, 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."

Duluth News Tribune, November 10, 2011: “The doctor maintains he was vilified unjustly and inaccurately on the Internet and in postings and correspondence to colleagues and peers and thinks that Mr. Laurion falsified statements and incidents that did not occur,” Minneapolis attorney Marshall Tanick said outside the courtroom after the hearing. “We maintain the case should be submitted to a jury to ensure that Dr. McKee and Mr. Laurion have their day in court so that the jury may determine this important issue.” Tanick told the panel his client is a highly regarded neurologist who has been defamed by Laurion’s comments, which appear pervasively on the Internet and falsely portray McKee as being insensitive and incompetent.

From Minneapolis Star Tribune March 25, 2012: McKee's lawyer, Marshall Tanick, said the doctor felt he had no choice but to sue to protect his reputation and his medical practice. "It's like removing graffiti from a wall," said Tanick. He said Laurion distorted the facts -- not only on the Internet, but in more than a dozen complaint letters to various medical groups. "He put words in the doctor's mouth," making McKee "sound uncaring, unsympathetic or just stupid."

Taken from videotaped comments to Minnesota Supreme Court: "He may have been upset at how Dr. McKee treated his father. Apparently he was, and he’s entitled to say that. He can say that “I’m upset. Doctor McKee did not treat my father well. He was insensitive.” He can make statements like that: “He didn’t spend enough time in my opinion.” He can make
factual (sic) statements, he can make them on the Internet, he can make them in letters, he can write a letter to the editor, he can stand in front of St. Luke’s Hospital with a placard saying those things if they are opinions . . ."

From BuzzFeed, 2014: But McKee’s lawyer, Marshall Tanick, of Hellmuth & Johnson, says no matter where it was said, defamation is defamation. “The thing that’s often misunderstood is that this was not just about free speech, but about making actual false statements,” Tanick says. “The problem is today’s unfettered opportunity to express opinion, whether or not the substance of what’s said is true or not. We need some boundaries.”

Anonymous said...

[[ He may have been upset at how Dr. McKee treated his father. Apparently he was, and he’s entitled to say that. He can say that “I’m upset. Doctor McKee did not treat my father well. He was insensitive.” He can make statements like that: “He didn’t spend enough time in my opinion.” He can make factual (sic) statements, he can make them on the Internet, he can make them in letters, he can write a letter to the editor, he can stand in front of St.Luke’s Hospital with a placard saying those things if they are opinions . . ." ]]

Doctor Sues And Gets A Ham

He can stand at St. Luke's with a placard of rebukes.
He can say "I'm upset." He can say it till he's wet.
He can write some letters to those he thinks his betters.

He can say it here or there. "I don't like him anywhere."
He can say it in a house. "I don't like him with a mouse,
I don't like him here or there, I don't like him anywhere."

He can say it in a car. He can say it in a tree.
"I don't like him in a box, I don't like him with a fox,
I don't like him in a house, I don't like him with a mouse,
I don't like him here or there, I don't like him anywhere."

He can say it in on a train. He can say it in the rain
He can say it in the dark. He can say it in the park.
"I don't like him in on a train, I don't like him in the rain,
I don't like him in the park, I don't like him in the rain,
I don't like him with a goat, I don't like him on a boat."

He can say it here or there, he can say it anywhere,
He can speak till numb, even if some should say,
There should be some awful Hell Toupee.

Anonymous said...

David McKee MD V. Dennis Laurion ( Minnesota Supreme Court Case # 11-1154, 2013 ) has been cited in an analysis of Jesse Ventura's defamation case.

"Defamation at Work: Rights and Options for Employees"
By Darren Sharp, Senior Attorney August 5, 2014
Schaeffer Halleen, LLC

With the recent $1.845 million verdict in Jesse Ventura’s defamation case, it is important for employees to understand the contours of defamation law in the workplace. Employees should know both what to avoid doing and what rights they have if false statements are made about them.

What should be avoided? The simple answer: avoid making false statements about others. To prevail on a defamation claim in Minnesota, a plaintiff must prove that the alleged defamatory statement (1) was communicated to someone other than the plaintiff, (2) was false, and (3) tended to harm the plaintiff’s reputation and lower [the plaintiff] in the estimation of the community. Bahr v. Boise Cascade Corp. (Minn. 2009). On the other hand, “true statements, however disparaging, are not actionable.” Furthermore, minor factual inaccuracies do not make statements defamatory, as long as the statements were essentially true in substance. David McKee MD v. Dennis Laurion (Minn. 2013).

http://www.schaeferhalleen.com/defamation-work-rights-options-employees/

Voglbauer V. Llewellyn said...

IS A SETTLEMENT IN THE WORKS FOR VOGL-BAUER V. LLEWELLYN?

Anthony Llewellyn now has three lawyers, Andrew Price, Kate E. Maternowski, and Laura Brenner . Jury trial is still scheduled for SEP 15 - SEP 17, 2014, in the Walworth County Judicial Center Courtroom of the Honorable Phillip A Koss; however, it is hard to find any of Anthony Llewellyn's videos online. IS HE TAKING THE VIDEOS DOWN?

Sally Vogl-Bauer apparently had her pre-trial hearing AUG 20, 2014. It is no longer listed on the pending court docket.

Visit http://wcca.wicourts.gov/index.xsl . Click agree.

On next page enter name = Llewellyn,

County = Walworth,

Case Number = 2013CV001140.

You'll see suit history and public data about Sally Vogl-Bauer and Anthony Llewellyn.