The vascular surgeon said to me “I don't care what you have to do, get me out of this case!”
I'd never heard someone talk like that before.
Here I was, a young attorney representing doctors and hospitals early in my legal career. I was working for very aggressive defense law firm on Wall Street. Shortly after this lawsuit was started, I needed to schedule an appointment with my client to discuss the allegations being made against him.
When I called my client, a well-known New York City vascular surgeon, he made it quite clear that he wanted nothing whatsoever to do with participating in this lawsuit. He wanted out. Nevertheless, he agreed to meet with me a few days later.
As a defense attorney, it was critical to meet with the doctor within days after getting the lawsuit papers. I needed to do that in order to understand what the claims were, what treatment the patient had received and what defenses we would be able to assert.
That meeting would then allow me the ability to properly answer the allegations that the injured victim was making in the lawsuit.
A few days later, I did in fact meet with this vascular surgeon.
Begrudgingly, he allowed me to ask him questions about the facts surrounding his patients claim. Once again, he made it quite clear that he was done with this meeting and heading back to his office hours to continue treating patients as best he could.
He believed but he could do so much more good spending time caring for his patients and performing surgeries instead of investing time helping with his defense and litigating this case all the way through trial.
He told me that he could be more profitable and help so many more patients spending time in his medical office and also in the operating room.
He knew from experience that defending a lawsuit is time-consuming and emotional. He knew that he'd lose money by being out of the office attending depositions and trial even though doctors win at least 2/3 of the cases that go to trial in New York City. He also knew that a jury could be sympathetic and give the injured victim a significant verdict.
After my brief meeting, I prepared a detailed report for the insurance company explaining the doctor's opinions and directives. It was also important to note that this doctor had what is known as a “consent policy.” That meant that if the insurance company and their medical experts determined that the doctor violated from the basic standards of medical care and caused this patient harm, he would have to consent in order for us to negotiate with the other side.
During my brief meeting with the doctor, he eagerly signed that piece of paper consenting to settle this case and to begin negotiations immediately.
The insurance company knew, after getting my letter, that they could not adequately defend this lawsuit if the doctor did not actively participate in defending it. They also knew from their own research and having the case reviewed internally by their own medical experts, that this doctor's particular treatment of this patient was clearly not ideal and likely caused this patient's significant injury.
At the doctor's insistence that we expedite getting rid of this case ,together with the underlying facts that were not favorable to him, I received authority from the insurance company to begin negotiations immediately with the attorney for the injured victim.
I am sure that the plaintiff's attorney was shocked when he got a call from me telling him we wanted to settle now even before we served an answer to the allegations.
This scenario is virtually unheard of in medical malpractice cases here in New York.
Typically, doctors and insurance companies vigorously defend these lawsuits and will often force plaintiff's attorneys to go to trial.
I never heard from this vascular surgeon again. My discussions with the insurance company revealed that this was not the only time this doctor was sued and he needed to settle the case in order to prevent significant publicity.
Whatever the doctor's motive was, I will say that he did the right thing and saved himself the agony of having to go through an aggressive questioning during his pretrial deposition.
Watch the video below to learn even more...