Case Law Update

Date: February 1, 2013 — Minneapolis, MN

During the week of February 1, 2013, the Minnesota appellate courts released an opinion on the following topic that may be of interest to our clients:


Defendant’s father was examined by plaintiff neurologist.  Defendant was present for portions of the examination and felt that plaintiff acted in a rude and insensitive manner. In response, defendant posted statements about plaintiff on various “rate your doctor” websites. Plaintiff filed suit alleging defamation and interference with business based on eleven of defendant’s statements.

The district court granted summary judgment in favor of defendant on all counts, holding the statements lacked defamatory meaning, were protected opinion, or were substantially true. The court of appeals reversed with respect to six of the allegedly defamatory statements, reasoning that those statements were factual assertions, that there were genuine issues as to falsity, and that the statements tended to harm plaintiff’s reputation.

The Minnesota Supreme Court reversed, concluding that the district court had properly granted summary judgment on all claims. The Court first held there were no genuine issues of material fact as to the falsity of three of those statements because the “gist” or “sting” of the statements was substantially similar to statements plaintiff admitted making.  Thus, any inaccuracy of expression did not change the meaning of what plaintiff admitted to having said.  The Court then held that the remaining three statements, as a matter of law, did not convey a defamatory meaning. The Court reasoned that two of the statements detailed acceptable behavior, and the other was an opinion not susceptible of proof.

McKee v. Laurion, A11-1154, (Minn. Jan. 30, 2013).

Editorial Staff

C. Lundberg, D. Dahlmeier, C. Hund, S. Sitek, T. Quick, D. Camarotto, M. Bradford, L. Pugh, S. Pearson, J. Marquet, J. Norrie, M. Dove, S. Aggergaard, K. Nelson, P. Gregory,
E. Vilendrer, J. Loetscher, J. Mulder and D. Olson

Writer this Week:

Casey D. Marshall



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