Correspondence of Skeptical Scalpel and Dennis K. Laurion (view original post):

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. While spending nearly 24 years as a surgical chairman, I learned that there are always two sides to every story.

Thanks, Doctor, for the courtesy of your reply. I do, in fact, realize that you just tweeted the existence of the article.

I agree that most of the stories about your case tended to sympathize with the doctor and that his defamation suit brought far more attention to him and his behavior than if he had simply let it go.

I have some questions.

Is the litigation completely over?

Yes. For a while, the plaintiff threatened, mostly 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. The statute of limitations has now passed.

If so, did you win the case?

I won dismissal with prejudice 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, rather than reply only to the plaintiff, I filed my reply through the court, putting the suit into public record and the attention of newspapers.

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

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.

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

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’s lawyer only charged me for my internet rating site reviews and my letter to the hospital. The complaint avoided any 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.

May I ask how you discovered that I had tweeted a link to the BuzzFeed article?

I searched the opening sentence of the article. The search revealed blogs that copied the article, but it also reviewed Facebook postings and tweets.

Finally, do you have any interest in my publishing your email to me on my blog? I think it would be of value for people to hear your side of the story.

Yes, I appreciate your offer. You may also quote my answers to your questions, if you wish.