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Duluth doctor appealing judge's decision to toss out defamation suit

DULUTH - A Duluth physician whose defamation suit against a former patient's son was thrown out of district court said he has no choice but to file an appeal.

Dr. David McKee, a neurologist with Northland Neurology and Myology, said he still is being targeted in online attacks related to the lawsuit he filed in June 2010 against Dennis Laurion.

McKee, who treated Laurion's father after he suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, alleges that Laurion made false statements about him to neurological associations, other physicians, St. Luke's hospital and the St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services Advisory Committee, among others. He is seeking more than $50,000 in damages.

McKee said a sudden concentration of unfavorable critiques about him cropped up online shortly before Sixth District Judge Eric Hylden dismissed the suit.

"It appears that Mr. Laurion made over 100 adverse postings on the Internet once he became aware that he was going to receive a favorable decision on the motion for summary judgment," McKee said. "Appealing seems to me the only way to curb the activities of this malicious person."

Laurion said he has not posted anything on the Internet about McKee since the lawsuit was filed last June. He said his lawyer advised him not to. But, because the case was thrown out, technically he could if he wanted to, he said.

Laurion said he was aware there was an influx of Internet chatter about McKee after a link to a story about McKee appeared on the high-traffic website

Marshall Tanick, the Minneapolis lawyer who is representing McKee, said the appellate court will have a hearing before a three-judge panel in the fall or later this year.

"(McKee) believes the trial judge erred in dismissing the lawsuit," Tanick said. "He is asking the appellate court to reverse the decision and reinstate the case so that he has his day in court before a jury."

Kenneth Laurion spent four days at St. Luke's hospital in April 2010. John Kelly, Dennis Laurion's lawyer, told the News Tribune last summer they didn't feel McKee acted appropriately toward their father, and they reported it to the hospital and Board of Medical Practice.

Hylden wrote in his 18-page order dismissing the suit that the court did not find Laurion's statements about McKee defamatory, "but rather a sometimes emotional discussion of the issues."

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.