January 28th, 2016

Doctor Tries To Take Down Lawyer’s Blog Post By Filing Grievance – updated x2

Michigan attorney Steven Gursten

Michigan attorney Steven Gursten

Wow. Defense-medical exams and a defamation claim against a law blogger! Two of my favorite topics wrapped up in one ugly Michigan incident now ongoing.

Now you folks know I have a thing or two to say about doctors that do a lot of defense medical-legal exams. And you know I have a thing or two to say about BS claims of defamation, having been on the receiving end of a couple of moronic lawsuits.

Now comes before us today one Dr. Rosalind Griffin, a Michigan psychiatrist, with a different tactic: Filing a grievance against lawyer Steven Gursten for blogging about a medical-legal exam that she did on one of his clients.

Gursten was so ticked off at Dr. Griffin, that he wrote about her. Like me, he thinks that many of the doctors that make these exams a staple of their practices are doing hatchet jobs on the injured plaintiffs in order to benefit the insurance companies.

(For a comic view of how one lawyer sees it, you can view this cartoon.)

The short version of today’s story is that Gursten’s client was hit by two trucks, and he asserts that the client suffered a traumatic brain injury, broken back, and other significant injuries. Dr. Griffen then did the defense medical exam (DME) — sometimes improperly called an independent medical exam (IME) — and issued a report.

Gursten then presented evidence and asked readers to draw their own conclusions as to whether Dr. Griffen committed perjury. In fact, by the title of his posting, you can see that this invitation to readers was his explicit intention:

Heading: IME abuse? Read the transcript of Dr. Rosalind Griffin in a terrible truck accident case and decide for yourself

Subheading: How many thousands of innocent and seriously hurt people lose everything because of so-called “independent medical exams,” such as this example by Michigan psychiatrist Dr. Rosalind Griffin?

Dr. Rosalind Griffen, as seen during her video testimony in this matter.

Dr. Rosalind Griffen

He presented evidence that Dr. Griffen — who he said is “a rather notorious IME doctor here in Michigan” — was less than candid in her assessment.

Gursten asserts that this evidence disproves the doctor’s claim that the client said during the exam that his condition was improving, that the client had minor medical conditions, and despite “a closed-head injury, traumatic brain injury, abnormal memory and concentration, PTSD and a badly fractured and collapsed T12 vertebral body, as well as fractures to his mouth, shoulder and knee” that the client’s chronic pain actually came from a 30-year-old whiplash that had been asymptomatic.

This presentation of evidence, and request that readers make their own determination as to whether Dr. Griffen committed perjury, occurred Nov. 13, 2014.

Thirteen months later, Dr. Griffen filed a grievance, claiming defamation, and asking that the Committee require the lawyer to:

  • “delete his outrageous posting”; and
  • “[R]emove the link to Google results for my name.” [I didn’t make that up, I swear. — ET]
  • Punish and sanction him for putting her testimony and her conduct under oath on the internet for people to read.

Gursten wasn’t cowed by the complaint and proceeded to put it up online this week in a new posting with this heading and subheading:

Heading:  Sticks and stones and…attorney disbarment? Will the First Amendment lose out when IME doctor files grievance to conceal her testimony in injury case from the public?

Subheading:  IME doctor files grievance to suppress blog post and punish attorney for disclosing her conduct

Over the course of a very extensive follow-up posting this week, he provided many examples of differences between what the doctor claimed, and what he said actually happened. This is a sample, with much more at the original posting:

What Dr. Griffin claims James Fairley said. What James Fairley actually said.
“[A]ccording to his own statement he feels less depressed and is making progress.” (IME Report, Page 8)  “Q. What’s a good day for you? A. I don’t know. I haven’t had one lately. … I just have a profound sadness … Q. Do you think you’re depressed, sir? A. I do. … Q. Have you been tearful? A. Oh, yeah. I cry at the drop of a hat sometimes.”  (Fairley Dep., Page 58 (lines 1-2, 7), Page 61 (lines 13-14), Page 62 (lines 4-5))

In the text of the grievance, Dr. Griffen complains thusly about the original blog post:

Notably, it is the first item returned when someone uses the Google search engine on my name, thereby ensuring that it will be noted and read by individuals researching me or selecting a psychiatrist who will best meet the needs of the patient.

The problem, of course, is that Gursten merely provided the documents and video testimony, and pointed to various sections of them, while offering his opinions. He did what lawyers do: He presented evidence and asked the jury (his readers) to decide.

The doctor’s complaints that calling her “notorious,” or her exam a “hatchet job,” would be merely opinion. And opinion is not actionable under the First Amendment. It isn’t even a close call.

She also tries to make the complaint, unconvincingly I might add, that writing about her exam and testimony violates Rule 8.4 of Michigan’s rules of professional conduct which state that it is attorney misconduct to:

(c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;

(d) engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice;

Since there is nothing dishonest or fraudulent about providing evidence and asking a series of questions about where that evidence leads, I don’t see how she can possibly prevail. Nor is a public discussion of a very serious issue prejudicial to the administration of justice. In fact, a public discussion is beneficial to the administration of justice. I do it here all the time.

Why would Dr. Griffen — who happens to be a member of the very grievance committee to which she is complaining — file this?

Leaving aside the obvious possibility that she may have friends on the committee, the other possibility is that she tried mightily to find an attorney to bring a lawsuit, and that everyone told her “Are you shittin’ me?” though they may have been a tad more blunt. Then a year went by, the statute of limitations expired in Michigan, and she made this complaint feeling she had to do something.

And so she did. And now people out of state, who had never heard of her, are writing about her. Well played, doctor, well played.

(Pro tip: If you need to file a dopey defamation case, you might try Jonathan Sullivan at Ruskin Moscou Faltischek in New York. He’s the guy that brought Dr. Michael Katz’s pointless and doltish suit against me regarding an “IME” and testimony that Katz did. Who knows, maybe he wants to do it again?)

Addendum: More at Public Citizen, a small excerpt below. At the link are also case citations,  and a thorough exposition on the chilling effect that permitting such grievances has on free speech.

Griffin’s complaint amounts to a lightweight defamation claim (lightweight because most of the quoted words are either not actually about Griffin or are opinion rather than facts, because Griffin does not spell out any other allegedly defamatory words as Michigan law would require, and because she says nothing about knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard of probable falsity).  It is therefore not surprising that Griffin did not file a defamation claim within the one-year statute of limitations.  Instead, six days after the statute expired, she chose to file this bare-bones grievance complaint, hoping that paid grievance staff will conduct an investigation for her, and force Gursten to spend his time and money responding to questions from public officials about his opinions about whether and how justice is afforded to accident victims and specifically how Griffin has or has not testified unfairly or unjustly.

In discussing the Michigan’s Grievance Commission, in highly critical terms for allowing this to go forward and requiring a response from Gursten, Public Citizen’s Paul Alan Levy writes:

The Commission staff might well be hoping to exact an apology as Gursten’s price for peace, but at least so far, Gursten is not only not caving in to Griffin’s pressure, but he has called Griffin’s bluff and raised the ante.

Addendum #2: Scott Greenfield weighs in on Rosalind Griffin using a disciplinary complaint because an actual defamation case would fail, and the completely expected reaction (from anyone in the least bit savvy about the internets):

But if the lawyer disciplinary process seems like easy pickin’s to silence blawgers, the flip side is that we’re not particularly inclined to run scared, and we have this tendency not to take kindly to being extorted through the use of the grievance procedure to shut us up.

Has Dr. Rosalind Griffin ever heard of Barbra Streisand?  If she thought she had something to twist her face into a frown before, she’s really gonna hate what happens when her effort to use the disciplinary procedure to silence Gursten not only fails, but backfires big time.

 

August 4th, 2015

Douglas Kennedy’s Lawyers Get Disqualified in Nurse Assault Suit (Updated)

Douglas Kennedy-Wesrtchester Hospital

Screen capture from video of the Douglas Kennedy incident at Westchester Hospital

In a ruling late last week, the attorneys for Douglas Kennedy, son of Robert F. Kennedy, were disqualified from defending him in a suit arising out of his alleged assault of two nurses.

The January 7, 2012, incident, widely covered in the media, arose when Kennedy attempted to take his three-day old son outside of Northern Westchester Hospital for fresh air. He was stopped by nurses who said he was not permitted to do so without a bassinet, and a tussle ensued which was partially caught on video.

Kennedy was acquitted of misdemeanor charges of child endangerment and harassment in the second degree, but a civil suit followed for personal injuries.

The remarkable disqualification came about due to a subject I have extensively covered on this blog, the way that defense medical exams are done and reported. (Many judges use the misnomer IME though the exams are not actually independent. Chief Judge Lippman agrees with me on this. These exams are commissioned by counsel, not the court.)

In this case, three doctors examined each of the nurse-plaintiffs, and four of the six reports said that the injuries were causally connected to Kennedy’s actions. So what did the defense lawyers do? They gave more materials to the experts to persuade them to change their conclusions. And on at least one occasion, met with the expert, along with Douglas Kennedy, to persuade him.

In other words, the defense took multiple bites at the apple. Instead of giving all of the information at the outset, they gave only some, and when the reports didn’t come back the way they liked, they gave more. And with one of the experts, went back to the well three times for amendments.

From the well-reasoned opinion of Judge William Giacomo with my bolding on the important stuff that the defense lawyers wanted changed:

During July of 2014, each plaintiff submitted to three IMEs performed by defendant’s insurance company. Plaintiff Anna Lane submitted to a psychological lME with Dr. Richard DeBenedetto, an orthopedic IME by Dr. David Elfenbein, and a neurological IME by Dr. Elliott Gross. Plaintiff Cari Lucania submitted to a psychological IME with Dr. Victoria L. Londin, an orthopedic IME by Dr. David Elfenbein, and a neurologicallME by Dr. Ronald Silverman. With respect to Anna Lane, in July 2014, Drs. DeBenedetto and Elfenbein each issued an IME report with a finding that her injuries were causally related to the January 7,2012 incident. Dr. Gross found no causal relationship. With respect to Cari Luciano, Drs. Londin and Elfenbein each issued an IME report with a finding that her injuries were causally related to the January 7, 2012 incident. Dr. Silverman found no causal relationship.

With those reports of causation in hand, defense counsel then went to work to get them changed:

Thereafter, in August of 2014, defense counsel sent Drs. DeBenedetto, Elfenbein, and Londin additional information with regard to plaintiffs (including plaintiffs’ deposition transcripts) and medical records (including the neurological IME reports which found no causal relationship) together with a copy of Judge Donohue’s November 20,2012 written decision in the criminal matter.

Why disqualification? Because these doctors are witnesses, and the lawyers that asked them to change their reports are now also. Plaintiff’s counsel wants to call them to show, no doubt, his opinion of chicanery in the defense of the case. And you can’t be both a witness and counsel in a case, as it violates our disciplinary rules.

From the court regarding the Dr. David Elfenbein, regarding the three separate addendums to his report:

On July 8, 2014, August 20, 2014, and October 10, 2014 Dr. Elfenbein issued addendums to his original July 2, 2014 report. The July 8, 2014 and August 20, 2014, addendums further indicated a causal relationship between Lane’s injuries and the incident. However, on October 10,2014, after attending a meeting, at Dr. Elfenbein’s office with defense counsel and defendant, Dr. Elfenbein issued a third addendum wherein he no longer found Lane’s injuries were causally related to the incident. In his October 10, 2014 addendum Dr. Elfenbein states “Attorney Douglas presented mewith medical records and did review some key aspects of them with me. He then asked me verbally and in writing to review those records in their entirety and readdress my conclusions regarding causation in my Independent Examination.”

Interestingly, the opinion by Judge Giacomo exposing this incident is likely to significantly impair Dr. Elfenbein’s ability to conduct these exams in the future. He is likely to be, shall we say, harshly criticized in future cross-examinations with a claim that he will bend to the hand that feeds him.

All the reports were subsequently changed to reflect that there was no causation for the injuries. Not just one report, but all. And that makes the lawyers who did this at, Douglas and Newman, important witnesses.

As per the court, in ordering disqualification:

In order to disqualify counsel, a party moving for disqualification must demonstrate that (1) the testimony of the opposing party’s counsel is necessary to his or her case, and (2) such testimony would be prejudicial to the opposing party (see S & S Hotel Ventures Ltd. Partnership v 777 S. H., 69 NY2d at 446; Daniel Gale Assoc., Inc. v George, 8 AD3d 608, 609 [2nd Dept 2004]).

Here, plaintiffs have established that the testimony of defense counsel Douglas & London, PC regarding its conduct and interactions with the IME doctors, including what occurred during the meeting with Dr. Elfenbein, to warrant a change in their original determination that plaintiffs’ injuries were causally related to the January 7,2012 incident is necessary to their case and would be prejudicial to defendant. (See McElduff v. McElduff, 101 A.D.3d 832, 954 N.Y.S.2d 891 [2nd Dept 2012]).

Let me be clear about something: This does not happen. In the world of personal injury litigation, this is exceptionally rare. In fact, I’ve never before heard of it happening.

But the decision is, in my opinion, correct. If a lawyer forwarded additional documents to one doctor, the result may well have been different. But three doctors? And meeting with one for the express purpose of getting that report changed for a third time? Yeah, that lawyer is now a witness. And that can’t be good for the defendant, Douglas Kennedy.

The court here effectively protected Kennedy from the conduct of his own counsel. It’s better for him to have them as non-party witnesses who will be skewered than to have them as his counsel in the well of the courtroom who will be skewered. The decision is here:Luciano and Lane v Kennedy

Hat tip: Eliott Taub

Updated:  The New York Law Journal also has the story, on its front page, with interviews of the attorney and defense counsel’s defense of their conduct. They claimed, in part, that they didn’t have all the information:

“It was plaintiffs that withheld information, downplayed information and the doctors didn’t have it…”

The problem with that is that, as Judge Giacomo writes, some of the information furnished to the doctors apparently pre-existed. This includes the plaintiff’s deposition (usually available) and the court opinion in the criminal matter.

Also, a second decision exists from Judge Joan Lefkowitz, dated July 2nd, where she deals (via Order to Show Cause), with the demands by plaintiff for many of the documents at issue regarding the medical-legal exams. See: Luciano v Kennedy (Lefkowitz Decision). She also notes that Douglas Kennedy actually went with his lawyers to the final meeting with Dr. Elfenbein.

 

March 16th, 2015

Another Defense Orthopedist Slammed By Judge

You remember, dear reader, that one of my concerns about the fair administration of justice in personal injury cases here in New York is the fact that defense doctors are often less than candid in the independent medical-legal exams that they do?

Dr. Robert Israel was sanctioned by the state. Dr. Michael Katz excoriated by Justice Duane Hart. One doctor decided that what’s “normal” is what the insurance carrier tells him. Another reveals how to leave out of the reports things that may be beneficial to the plaintiff. And I uncovered in my own investigation a bevy of doctors doing “quickie” medical exams.

Now comes before us Dr. Julio V. Westerband, yet another orthopedist. And he was benchslapped big-time last week in an opinion by Justice Arlene Bluth. He seemed, in my humble opinion, to be oddly challenged by the idea of writing objectively for an “independent” exam.

This is the set-up: Plaintiff was standing on the sidewalk outside a car wash. Defendant driver lost control of his car and hits the plaintiff. Plaintiff suffers injuries, including a broken ankle.

I know, it’s complicated. But this is the interesting part: to proceed in an auto case in New York you have to show a “serious injury,” and one of the ways of doing that is by showing a fracture. So the fact of fracture is particularly important.

Plaintiff moved for summary judgment, both on liability and on the issue of serious injury. Liability wasn’t contested, but the fracture was.

How can Dr. Westerband — who did a medical-legal exam of the plaintiff on behalf of the defendant — contest the fracture that repeatedly showed up on the x-rays? Easy! By not reading the x-rays and simply ignoring the written reports that he concedes explicitly state that the ankle is fractured.

No, really, I’m not kidding you.

Plaintiff put in proof through his own orthopedist, who treated the plaintiff and saw the records, that the ankle was broken.

But Dr. Westerband? Could he be bothered with objectivity? Well, if he did that, then the defense would lose, right? If multiple radiology reports all say fracture we can pretty much guess that there will be a fracture, right?

And he did see the reports, for in his own report — summarizing the records he reviewed and his medical-legal exam — he indicates that all four of the ankle x-rays reports show a fracture. Westerband Report

But instead of writing “fracture” in his own report, which is a magic word according to our Legislature, he writes  “questionable” fracture. Based on what is it questionable you ask? Funny that you should ask, because Justice Bluth asked the same thing, and then wrote:

He did not review x-rays and did not disagree that plaintiff suffered a broken ankle in the accident. Rather, with no support whatsoever, he concludes “status post questionable right ankle fracture.” Maybe if he looked at an x-ray he wouldn’t have a question.

Zing!  The defense, having failed to raise an issue of fact on the issue of a fracture with this idiotic argument, lost the motion for summary judgment. They should probably be grateful that plaintiff’s counsel didn’t move for sanctions. Given Justice Bluth’s obvious annoyance at having to even hear this nonsense, it wouldn’t surprise me if she would have considered it.

Dr. Westerband, by the way, has previously testified that he testifies about 25 times per year and that half of his income comes from medical-legal exams and testifying. I know, you are shocked.

The decision is here, and as you can plainly see, handwritten. So I’m publishing it now also in a Google-friendly way, since handwritten opinions aren’t likely to get officially reported, and others may wish to cross-examine Dr. Westerband on why he makes decisions on fractures while both ignoring the x-ray reports and failing to look at the films: Westerband Decision

You’re welcome.

 

 

August 19th, 2013

Judge: No Mulligans for Defendants on Medical-Legal Exams

Who do I see about a mulligan on my choice of experts?

Who do I see about a mulligan on my choice of experts?

In golf, a mulligan is a do-over. You whack the ball deep into the woods, you yelp “Mulligan!” and tee up a new one. When you’re out with your buddies no one really cares. Unless there’s money on the line. Then it matters.

And so we have the defendants now screaming for mulligans when it comes to so-called “independent” medical exams performed by Dr. Robert Israel. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, I wrote about him on June 3rd after he’d been placed on probation for three years for professional misconduct due to medical-legal exams he conducted for defendants. Yeah, that Dr. Israel.

He agreed, in accordance with his sanction, that his:

…license to practice medicine in New York State shall be limited to preclude me from engaging in any practice as an Independent Medical Examiner as of March 2013. I shall not contract or agree to perform, nor perform Independent Medical Examinations.

Given that he was doing 1,500 orthopedic exams per year for medical-legal purposes, that was a pretty big deal for thousands of cases.

Defendants were, as you might guess, a wee bit concerned that he’d be drawn and quartered by plaintiffs’ attorneys if he took the stand and that whatever credibility he had before the sanction would vanish into the vapors.

So they’ve been making motions, claiming that if Dr. Israel testified on any of his old cases, it would violate the consent order that he’d agreed to.

This was expected when I made my original post — and I said the tactic would fail — writing:

Now here is a big legal issue for all those defense firms and insurance companies that thought they were being so smart in hiring Dr. Israel: The consent order does not preclude him from testifying. He can’t be an examiner for the next three years for sure, but the examination part is done. His records and reports (for what they are worth) are already made. There is no reason he can’t testify, other than the fact he will be (justifiably) torn to bits. But being torn to bits is not the same as being unavailable to testify.

That means there’s a good chance they will all be stuck with him. The insurance companies got the benefit of his exams previously and now they will get the downside. Karma. Sleeping with the devil. Laying down with dogs and picking up fleas. Choose your metaphor or proverb.

The comments on the post lit up with discussion on the consent order and whether it would preclude Dr. Israel from testifying. No way, said I.

And now the first verdicts are in, in three decisions from Justice Kenneth P. Sherman sitting in Brooklyn: Moran v. EMR Mechanical, Diaz-Rivera v. Akindele and Haynes v. Hossain.

The law does sometimes allow for mulligans, of course, in certain situations. Litigants on both sides, for example, often ask for retrials when they are on the losing side claiming some unfairly prejudicial conduct (and usually lose).

But in the first of these three decisions, Moran (decided August 5th), there were problems with the defendants’ application for a second defense medical exam. Justice Sherman wrote that that there was no claim that the plaintiff’s condition had changed (which would obviously warrant a second exam), nor any claim Dr. Israel wasn’t a qualified orthopedist, nor any claim that Dr. Israel was unavailable to testify due to death or disability.

The defendants instead tried to claim that the consent order rendered him unavailable because he would be engaging in “any practice as an Independent Medical Examiner.” Is that good enough for a do-over?

No way, said Justice Sherman. The consent order affects future exams, not the past ones. He wrote: “As those pre-consent order IMEs and reports were not rendered retroactively void by the consent order, there is no reason why Dr. Israel could not testify concerning those reports.”

And, mimicking my comments about Dr. Israel getting shredded on cross-exam, Justice Sherman wrote:

The Court understands that Dr. Israel might be subject to a somewhat intense and difficult cross-examination. However, such an attack on this expert’s credibility, like any other attack on any witness’s credibility, only goes to the weight of that testimony, not it’s admissibility.

Justice Sherman thereafter reviewed appellate cases where other examining doctors had faced license issues, and was unable to find any support for the defense proposition that mere fear of vigorous cross-exam was enough to warrant a mulligan on the medical-legal exam.

The second decision, Diaz-Rivera (dated August 14th), cites to Moran and once again rejects the defendant’s request for a do-over.

The third decision, in Haynes, adds in the additional wrinkle of a letter from the Department of Health that specifically rejects the defense contentions that Dr. Israel would be violating the consent order if he testified about his past cases. (That letter is a July 2nd update to my original post.) The pertinent part reads:

“If [Dr.Israel], in the future, testifies about acts performed, observations or findings made or opinions and/or diagnoses rendered, respectively, at a time that predates the effective date of the Order [June 7, 2013], we would not consider that a reportable violation.”

Now let’s see what happens to Dr. Michael Katz, recently busted on the witness stand for lying about the defense medical exam he did, and perhaps, a few of the other doctors who have for years been doing quickie medical exams and escaped Department of Health oversight.

Do you hear that cheering sound? It comes from gazillions of plaintiff’s attorneys and their clients who have been burned  by insurance companies hiring Dr. Israel and his ilk in the past.

There won’t be any mulligans here. Karma’s a bitch.

 

July 30th, 2013

To Tell the Truth: Which Doctor’s Signature is the Real One?

Dr. Joseph Tuvia

Dr. Joseph Tuvia

I thought I was done, for the time being, ripping scabs off the lacerations and lesions of New York’s medical-legal evaluation industry. Boy was I wrong.

Over the transom this week sails medical reports allegedly signed under oath by one Joseph Tuvia, M.D., who’s been doing medical-legal reviews of radiology films since about 1996. He was reviewing, back then, a thousand films a year, and was doing 95% of it for the defense.

As you might guess from the title of this post, the questions today revolve again around potential perjury, not from the witness stand but by signing medical-legal reports under penalty of perjury. Or, perhaps, by having others sign his name.

Tuvia1 Tuvia2 Tuvia3
Each radiological study these kinds of experts interpret, you see, gets memorialized in a report. And each report is signed under penalty of perjury.

TuviaJoseph-jane 2But which of these four signatures is the real Dr. Tuvia? Do any of them look even remotely the same as the other?

This looks, to my eye, like some sick version of the old To Tell the Truth, where celebrities asked questions to a panel of three contestants and only one person was allowed to be truthful. It ran for a remarkable 25 years. But those folks were doing it for the laughs, and the imposters certainly weren’t doing it under penalty of perjury.

The declarations you see here are signed pursuant to CPLR 2106, which allows doctors to sign unsworn affirmations as opposed to affidavits. Doctors, I guess, were deemed trustworthy enough to do this. And most of them are.

But who, in this case, is actually signing under penalty of perjury? Do any of those signatures belong to Dr. Tuvia? Do they belong to someone on the support staff? Do they belong to a broker funneling business to the medical practice on behalf of the insurance company?

Is anyone changing the report after it’s dictated? Would Dr. Tuvia even know?

Is anyone laughing about this?

I attempted to reach Dr. Tuvia but was unsuccessful. I am open to publishing a response if he calls back.

I’ve bitched and moaned a lot about the sorry state of New York’s current medical-legal “system,” where brokers pay doctors chump change to do evaluations on a big volume basis, and the results are quickie 5-minute exams. The doctor gets paid and moves on to the next one. The claimants that might have their economic futures affected are stunned at what happened, their legal rights potentially altered forever.

Questions arise, however, not only with those that do the exams but those that are unseen by the claimant. These doctors simply review records and films and then happily testify about the “results.”

Apparently some are laughing at this show. It’s the insurance companies, and they get to laugh all the way to the bank as they limit their payouts. The defense doctors playing this game know who is paying the bill and want the repeat business that comes with a happy client. The insurance companies use the reports — claiming the orthopedic injury is degenerative, or pre-existing, or non-existing, or fully recovered – to coerce meager settlements.

The New York Times covered this several years ago in an exposé about phony Workers’ Compensation evaluations and what happens with the bogus results: “The examiners’ opinions can empower an insurer to slash benefits, withhold medical treatment or stall a case.”

Then the insurance companies use the same phony data to run to the Legislature and scream about all the insurance fraud. Is that a laugh riot or what?

Will the District Attorneys ever investigate? Will the Attorney General? Will the U.S. Attorney?  How about the Insurance Frauds Bureau at the Department of Financial Services where Benjamin M. Lawsky is the Superintendent?? Or is it only individuals that get investigated while insurance companies get a free pass?

Yeah, I keep dreaming about this stuff, hoping someone in the media will wake up when they realize the scope of the issue, that someone will realize how many tens of millions or hundreds of millions are at stake, hoping that one day we will see a little more integrity in the system.  Hoping that someone, somewhere, will pick up this drum and start banging on it.

Hello? Is this thing on? Is anyone out there listening? Does anyone give a damn?

And will the real Dr. Joseph Tuvia, please stand up?

(Hat tip on the documents to one of my brethren at the New York personal injury bar, Jeffrey Levine.)

Update: Three days after this post, Dr. Tuvia took the stand in an unrelated case and was confronted with the signatures:

Part 7: Doctor Testifies That Six Different Signatures Are All His (8/5/13)