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Injured Victim Wins Case After Defense Pressures Expert Witness


Posted on Sep 12, 2012

A judgment has been issued this week in favor of a plaintiff suing WellStar health system after it was revealed that WellStar's defense counsel had tampered with the plaintiff's expert witness in a Georgia medical malpractice case last month.

Pamela Kemp sued for the wrongful death of her husband, David Kemp, 64, who died in 2009 after WellStar Douglas Hospital gave him drugs that interacted disastrously with his risk factors: the daily consumption of six beers and two packs of cigarettes. He entered the hospital with shortness of breath from his chronic emphysema and the medicinal reaction caused respiratory failure, brain injury, and eventually death. 

According to an online article that appears here, the main issue at trial concerned the plaintiff's expert witness, Dr. William Stinnette, an internist at rival Northside Hospital. It turns out WellStar's attorneys at Green & Sapp contacted Susan Sommers, general counsel at Northside. Sommers presides over Dr. Stinnette's department. 

According to Stinnette's testimony, Sommers called with an uncommonly "ominous" tone and mentioned a risk to his contract. Indeed, this intimidation initially caused him to bow out from the trial.

Superior Court Judge Adele Grubbs ruled this was not a fair trial because it is now too difficult for the plaintiff to find another expert witness.

She based her ruling on the credibility of all the parties involved, given various inconsistencies and omissions. She also labeled a related email correspondence "atrocious," in which the lead defense attorney wrote, "Sue Sommers has made it clear that Stinnette is not going to be a factor."

COMMENTARY

This sounds just like a scene from the movie The Verdict, with Paul Newman.  In the movie, Paul Newman portrays a down and out drunk plaintiff's medical malpractice lawyer. He relies on going to funerals of people he does not know in an effort to troll looking for cases.The defense lawyers, a well-established Boston law firm, intimidates hospital staff in an effort to prevent them from coming in and testifying.

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Gerry Oginski
NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer