Saturday, November 20, 2010

Judicial Review

A few years ago one of my partners was raked over the coals in a medmal lawsuit. He won the case but it tore him up emotionally. It was one of those cases where bad things happened and he just happened to be there. Early in the case the plaintiffs attorney kept calling to settle, dragging it out as much as possible in the hopes to just get some cash. My partner and his defense team just said it was up to the court. When it finally went to trial, my partner won, but at a huge cost. He is one of the most caring people I have ever met.

Anyway, I was in clinic and it was chaos. I was on call so I had my patients and then all the ER calls. Right in the middle of it my partner comes around the hall and shuts the door. He says "Remember my lawsuit? The Judge is here. He has a big " " mass that was found and remembered me from the case. He wants me to do the surgery. I asked him why me, and he said it was because all the experts witnessess on both sides seemed to agree that you were one of the best."


SeaSpray said...

That's *beautiful* a redemptive way.:) Not that he needed redeeming. But still ..his medical reputation was challenged ..even if not directly involved. I recall WC's anguish as he went through that wrongful lawsuit.

There are more important things ..but certainly one of the worst things a person can go through is when their character,work or something significant is *wrongfully* accused. I immediately felt sorry for your partner - that he had to endure that.

But to have the judge come to your partner for help ...priceless. Restoration to your partner's spirit. Good coming out of bad. And the judge will get "one of the best."

I am always intrigued by these moments in life. You know ..where you meet people years earlier and then down the road ..they actually become a part of your life ...sometimes significantly.

I wonder if the first encounters are a preparation for the future interactions or coincidence? Although ..I don't believe in coincidence.

Anyway ..interesting story Throckmorton. :)

Supremacy Claus said...

I hope your friend was gracious and helped the judge. The ethical quandary would have arisen had he lost the case.

I commend and encourage your friend's resistance to settlement. In some insurance policies, the company may settle without consent from the insured. Doctors should leave such policies.

The resistance? It was an excellent investment in the future of clinical care. Medmal lawyers learn from experience. Had he settled, the settlement would have generated other similar claims. The loss likely ended a long line of future claims.

Doctors are a spoiled, privileged defendants. For example, they get to set their own standards of due care, rather than untrained jurors. If a medical group grosses $5 million a year, it gets upset if it has 4 lawsuits going. If a welding business is grossing $5 million, it can expect a permanent set of lawsuits numbering 400. Walmart has 10,000 lawsuits going, every day. As one finishes another comes in.

Most medmal cases are weak cases. That is the most upsetting aspect. The filing of a weak case is legal malpractice. I would like to see a law end the self-dealt immunity of tort lawyers, allowing the filing of a lawyer malpractice suit by the adverse third party (the defendant doctor). Lawsuits do deter. That would be the best tort reform ever, by stopping the filing of weak cases, and eliminating 80% of claims ahead of time.