A victim’s worst nightmare, that a doctor would lie to downplay legitimate injuries for the benefit of an insurance company, was rectified last week, in part because of the actions of a savvy plaintiff’s attorney. A New York judge handed the transcripts from a trial he presided over to the district attorney for a possible perjury charge against one of the defense team’s witnesses – a doctor caught in what the judge described as a “huge lie,” according to the Workers’ Compensation Institute.
Orthopedist Dr. Michael J. Katz was hired by an insurance company to perform an independent medical exam on a severely fractured ankle and injured shoulder for an ongoing case. The doctor, who testified that he may make over a million dollars a year just from his medical-legal practice, spent less than two minutes examining the patient and then sided with the defense’s findings. However, according to the Village Voice, the doctor testified that he spent up to 20 minutes with the patient and conducted a thorough examination.
Plaintiff’s attorney secretly videotaped the examination, which showed the real extent of the exam. The attorney took full advantage of the tape, withholding it from the defense until the doctor perjured himself on the stand and then using it as rebuttal evidence. This technique might be considered sharp practice and earned the attorney initial sanctions by the court, as generally all evidence must be exchanged with the other side before trial. But the attorney argued that the tape showed the doctor’s perjury, and since the doctor was just a witness in this case and not an actual a party, he had no duty to turn over the tape for this case. The attorney won this argument and sanctions were dropped.
The judge was reportedly less concerned with the doctor’s dishonesty regarding the length of the actual exam than by the fact that the medical conclusions to which he testified could not have been reached in less than two minutes. Dr. Katz, however, claimed the allegations against him were untrue and were being played up by the plaintiff’s attorney in order to win an outsized settlement.