Thought you'd be interested in this.
The Public Eye
“Duluth man fights defamation suit by doctor he criticized”
Dear Public Eye:
It was an ill-advised, ill-conceived, misguided seriously flawed action. Here's the problem both in Manitoba and the rest of Canada. Unlike certain American states with anti-SLAPP statutes exist which can nip a lawsuit in the bud we have none. Therefore, a publicly supported organization with lots of Canadian taxpayer dollars, such as the MMF, can theoretically pursue a case ad infinitum by filing countless Motions, Affidavits, Amended Statements of Claim, etc., etc., etc. We need look no farther then the Federation's lawsuit in which over 200 court filings (CI 05-01-41955) were registered by Counselor Trachtenberg not to mention his endless stream of ad nauseam correspondence to the Defendants in all over 2,000 pages worth. How many books is that?
The original Statement of Claim before it was amended, re-amended ..... listed 22-Plaintiffs:
Manitoba Metis Federation Incorporated, Anita Campbell, David Chartrand, Elbert Chartrand, Rita Cullen, Richard DeLaronde, Darrel Deslauriers, Jean Desrosiers, William Flett, John Fleury, Laura Hyrich, Julyda Lagimodiere, Joyce Langan, Leah LaPlante, Judy Mayer, Bonnie McIntyre, Fosemarie McPherson, Darryl Montgomery, Marilee nault, Jack Park, Claire Riddle and Denise Tomas. Missing was Ron Chartrand Vice-President of the MMF's Winnipeg Region who did not agree to be a part of the litigation from the get go and the kitchen sink.
Subsequently Richard DeLaronde, Darrel Deslauriers, William Flett, Joyce Langan, Bonnie McIntyre, and Rosemarie McPherson developed a bad case of cold feet subsequently signing Notices of Discontinuance thereby withdrawing from the lawsuit. We'll leave it to Counselor Trachtenberg to explain how the same words could allegedly defame some members of a Board of Directors but not others.
Recent comments by a Crown Prosecuter perhaps said it best. To paraphrase: "Manitoba and Canada's defamation laws for that matter need to be seriously overhauled. Realistically, the only way that will happen is if someone challenges the province's Defamation Act under provisions of The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and wins. Then and only then will Manitoba Justice make the necessary changes.
Sincerely/Clare L. Pieuk
Patient's son seeks dismissal of Duluth doctor's defamation suit
A Duluth physician who sued a patient’s son for defamation was in court Thursday as the son attempted to have the case thrown out.
By: Mark Stodghill, Duluth News Tribune
Dr. David McKee A Duluth physician who sued a patient’s son for defamation was in court Thursday as the son attempted to have the case thrown out.
Dr. David McKeeDr. David McKee, a neurologist with Northland Neurology and Myology, filed the lawsuit against Dennis Laurion of Duluth in St. Louis County District Court in June. McKee alleges that Laurion defamed him and interfered with his business by criticizing him by making false statements on websites and to various third parties including other physicians in Duluth, the St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services Advisory Committee, St. Luke’s hospital and professional organizations.
Laurion’s father, Kenneth, now 85 and a Navy combat medic in the Solomon Islands during World War II, suffered a hemorrhagic stroke and was treated by McKee at St. Luke’s hospital April 19. He recovered from his condition. However, he and his family allege that McKee was rude and insensitive to the patient in his actions and comments.
The defendants claim that when McKee didn’t find Kenneth Laurion in the Intensive Care Unit, he said: “I had to find out whether you had transferred or died.” McKee confirmed in deposition that he made the statement, but claimed it was a jocular comment meant to relieve tension.
Kenneth Laurion, his defendant son and daughter-in-law were in the courtroom Thursday, as was plaintiff McKee.
McKee is asking for more than $50,000 in damages. Laurion claims that any statements he made about the doctor were true and that he is immune from any liability.
Duluth defense attorney John Kelly argued that his client’s statements were substantially true, were statements of opinion and couldn’t be demonstrated to be false.
“He is standing up and speaking out for his father. That is his motivation … in the hope that something gets done,” Kelly told the court.
McKee is represented by Minneapolis attorney Marshall Tanick. Tanick told the court that Laurion used the websites as a “weapon of mass destruction” to injure the reputation of McKee, place the doctor in a negative light and impugn his professional practice.
In a written motion, Tanick wrote, “The totality of statements made on these websites would be injurious to the reputation and standing of a doctor in the eyes of others who might see it, including patients or prospective patients, colleagues, peers, referral sources, and others.”
Sixth Judicial District Judge Eric Hylden is presiding over the case. As the parties introduced themselves to the court, Hylden told them it was a “very interesting type of case.”
Thinking out loud, Hylden suggested that Laurion has a constitutionally protected right to an opinion, but “isn’t there some limitation on what a person can say in that public forum?”
Kelly said his client made his statements of opinion in good faith and they were not demonstratively false.
“There has to be a protected area in which someone like Dennis Laurion can come forward, stand up and speak for his father and say, ‘Look, in this particular instance, my father didn’t get treated very well and you ought to know that.’ ”
Tanick argued that Laurion’s criticism goes much farther than that.
“He chose to tell the world at large in a way that was injurious to Dr. McKee’s reputation,” Tanick said.
Hylden took the motion for summary judgment under advisement. He has 90 days to issue his ruling.