Trial Lawyers Hide Behind A Bodyguard of Lies


By: Steven Maggi

Winston Churchill famously said, “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.” When it comes to trial lawyers and the lengths they’ll to justify their predations, it can be said “lies are so precious they must always be attended by a bodyguard of more lies.”

That’s the case with the trial attorney wolf pack now in the process of tearing down Putnam General Hospital in Putnam County, West Virginia – the only hospital serving that small community of 55,000 people.

More than 100 lawsuits have been filed against Putnam General’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 lawyers’ quest for gold is cloaked in the highly questionable claim that Dr. King did “irreparable harm” 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 attorney’s have formulated a bodyguard of lies to defend them in the court of public opinion.

Here’s the roster of lies:

Lie #1: “Lawsuits have nothing to do with the closing of PGH”
Actually, the trial attorneys have engaged in a deliberate campaign of discreditation via their lawsuits and associated media campaign. And it’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 General’s closing is akin to ignoring a well worn path through the woods in favor of running blindly through the thicket.

Lie # 2: “PGH hustled King in to do surgery and he did not have the proper credentials”
In a word: Wrong. Dr. King was brought in at the request of the hospital’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 – including from physicians who had operated with him. Then again, the plaintiff’s attorneys know all this.

Lie #3 “King did not have the proper credentials to perform orthopedic surgery”

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 king’s skill or technique.

Lie #4: “People have died”
This highly questionable assertion is based on examples like the death of a patient from cancer – which occurred several years after undergoing surgery by Dr. King.

Lie #5: “There were red flags shortly into King’s tenure that were ignored by the hospital”
On the contrary: Putnam General terminated King’s surgical privileges the moment a prudent basis for such came to light. If the trial attorney’s were telling the truth, it strands to reasons the physicians who operated with Dr. King also ignored these alleged “red flags.” But for some reason, these attorney’s aren’t suing those doctors – just the deep-pocketed Hospital Corporation of America.

Lie #6: “Prospective buyers aren’t or shouldn’t be concerned with the King lawsuit litigation.”
As good as the plaintiff’s attorneys are at attacking businesses, they don’t know much about how they operate. Putnam General Hospital’s value to a potential is directly impacted by these lawsuits. If the community distrusts the hospital with their medical care, that decreases the hospital’s value to a buyer. Indeed, these attorneys have targeted Putnam General with venomous criticism in the belief this damaging of the hospital’s community standing will make a settlement in lieu of trial more likely.

Lie #7: “King was an incompetent surgeon”
A tired lie the trial attorneys never tire of telling. Plaintiffs’ counsel knows the majority of their clients lack any legitimate claims against Dr. King’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. King’s surgery.

Lie #8: “King was not actually a licensed physician”
This is a particularly astounding lie told by the plaintiff’s attorneys – 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 plaintiff’s attorney’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 – who will have lost the only hospital they had.

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