Court: Calling someone 'a real tool' online is protected speech

2/3/2013

The Minnesota Supreme Court says a man's online post calling a doctor "a real tool" is protected speech.

The high court on Wednesday dismissed a case by Duluth neurologist David McKee, who took offense when a patient's son posted critical remarks about him on some rate-your-doctor websites. Those included a claim that a nurse called the doctor "a real tool."

The justices say the comments posted by Dennis Laurion don't add up to defamation. They say referring to someone as "a real tool" is a protected statement of opinion that can't be the basis of a defamation claim. They also say it doesn't matter whether the unnamed nurse actually exists.

The decision reverses a Minnesota Court of Appeals decision that would have let the doctor's lawsuit proceed to trial.


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