Trial Lawyers Hide Behind A Bodyguard of Lies
By: Steven Maggi
Winston Churchill famously said, â€œIn wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.â€ When it comes to trial lawyers and the lengths theyâ€™ll to justify their predations, it can be said â€œlies are so precious they must always be attended by a bodyguard of more lies.â€
Thatâ€™s the case with the trial attorney wolf pack now in the process of tearing down Putnam General Hospital in Putnam County, West Virginia â€“ the only hospital serving that small community of 55,000 people.
More than 100 lawsuits have been filed against Putnam Generalâ€™s parent company Hospital Corporation of America demanding billions in damages. The lawyers have even started suing each other over the potential spoils. As a consequence of this lawsuit carpet bombing, HCA will close Putnam General Hospital on Aug. 29, and the hospital has already stopped admitting patients.
The focus of this flock of lawsuits is Dr. John Anderson King, an orthopedic surgeon who was on staff at Putnam General for eight months between 2002 and 2003, before his hospital privileges were suspended. The lawyersâ€™ quest for gold is cloaked in the highly questionable claim that Dr. King did â€œirreparable harmâ€ to the lives of approximately 100 patients.
That is a question for a court of law to decide. However, since their phalanx of lawsuits is going to close down the only hospital in Putnam County, the trial attorneyâ€™s have formulated a bodyguard of lies to defend them in the court of public opinion.
Hereâ€™s the roster of lies:
Lie #1: â€œLawsuits have nothing to do with the closing of PGHâ€
Actually, the trial attorneys have engaged in a deliberate campaign of discreditation via their lawsuits and associated media campaign. And itâ€™s worked: patient census has fallen drastically and employee turnover has increased substantially, causing millions in losses. Claiming these attorneys and their lawsuits have not caused Putnam Generalâ€™s closing is akin to ignoring a well worn path through the woods in favor of running blindly through the thicket.
Lie # 2: â€œPGH hustled King in to do surgery and he did not have the proper credentialsâ€
In a word: Wrong. Dr. King was brought in at the request of the hospitalâ€™s only orthopedic surgeon, Dr. James Cox, to ease his de facto 24/7 work-load. When Dr. King applied for hospital medical staff membership, Putnam General utilized the proper and routine channels and received uniformly positive feedback â€“ including from physicians who had operated with him. Then again, the plaintiffâ€™s attorneys know all this.
Lie #3 â€œKing did not have the proper credentials to perform orthopedic surgeryâ€
Another falsehood. Dr. King presented the hospital staff with evidence of proper orthopedic surgery training, experience, and skill. In fact, another physician, Dr. Len Fichter, scrubbed in with Dr. King on dozens of surgeries at Putnam General and never raised any concerns as to kingâ€™s skill or technique.
Lie #4: â€œPeople have diedâ€
This highly questionable assertion is based on examples like the death of a patient from cancer â€“ which occurred several years after undergoing surgery by Dr. King.
Lie #5: â€œThere were red flags shortly into Kingâ€™s tenure that were ignored by the hospitalâ€
On the contrary: Putnam General terminated Kingâ€™s surgical privileges the moment a prudent basis for such came to light. If the trial attorneyâ€™s were telling the truth, it strands to reasons the physicians who operated with Dr. King also ignored these alleged â€œred flags.â€ But for some reason, these attorneyâ€™s arenâ€™t suing those doctors â€“ just the deep-pocketed Hospital Corporation of America.
Lie #6: â€œProspective buyers arenâ€™t or shouldnâ€™t be concerned with the King lawsuit litigation.â€
As good as the plaintiffâ€™s attorneys are at attacking businesses, they donâ€™t know much about how they operate. Putnam General Hospitalâ€™s value to a potential is directly impacted by these lawsuits. If the community distrusts the hospital with their medical care, that decreases the hospitalâ€™s value to a buyer. Indeed, these attorneys have targeted Putnam General with venomous criticism in the belief this damaging of the hospitalâ€™s community standing will make a settlement in lieu of trial more likely.
Lie #7: â€œKing was an incompetent surgeonâ€
A tired lie the trial attorneys never tire of telling. Plaintiffsâ€™ counsel knows the majority of their clients lack any legitimate claims against Dr. Kingâ€™s technique and skill. Independent medical examinations to which all parties agreed determined the techniques and skills King brought to the surgeries were in keeping with orthopedic standards of care. Not only that, but these review also concluded the vast majority of claimed injuries are unrelated to Dr. Kingâ€™s surgery.
Lie #8: â€œKing was not actually a licensed physicianâ€
This is a particularly astounding lie told by the plaintiffâ€™s attorneys â€“ astounding because it is so demonstrably false. King is indeed a licensed physician, and to say otherwise is to lie.
This is only a sampling of the more egregious prevarications being trotted out by the plaintiffâ€™s attorneyâ€™s to distract from the truth that their unbounded greed for huge damage awards may enrich them, while impoverishing the quality of medical care available to the very people for whom they profess to crusade. Ultimately, the truth may prevail, but even so it will come too late for the 55,000 residents of Putnam County â€“ who will have lost the only hospital they had.