Imagine – you are an physician expert hired by the insurance company for a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit. You have conducted an independent medical exam (IME) on the plaintiff. The lawyer on the other side has scheduled your deposition. What do you do to enhance your chances that your name (and reputation) goes viral?
Step 1 – Form opinions that are not supported by the evidence in the case or ignore evidence that does not fit your opinions.
Step 2 – Don’t prepare. Why bother? The lawyer deposing you probably won’t prepare either. Even if he does, you are getting paid a tidy sum for your effort (or lack thereof).
Step 3 – When pressed at your deposition by an obviously prepared lawyer who knows where your weak spots are, just sort of walk those opinions back – without changing them (see Step 1).
Step 4 – When that lawyer blogs about your Waterloo, file a bar grievance against him seeking censure or disbarment (and removal of the blog from social media).
Step 5 – Make sure that the allegations in your grievance are vague and unsupported by the record.
If you you are thinking this may be a cool thing to do, you should contact Dr. Rosalind Griffin in Michigan. She performed that IME on a client represented by Steve Gursten of Farmington Hills. She offered opinions that Mr. Gursten’s client’s condition was improving and that he did not suffer brain damage in the crash – information that would be helpful to the insurance company’s defense. She formed those opinions based on facts that she later had to admit were wrong or non-existent. In forming those opinions, she ignored the objective medical evidence in the medical records from the crash involved in the lawsuit. More than a year after Mr. Gursten wrote a blog exposing the situation, she filed a grievance with the Attorney Grievance Commission (a board on which she is a member). That grievance is long on accusations, but
short on silent on proof. So Mr. Gursten wrote another blog about what she did … and it went viral … because it should have.
This is wrong on two levels. First, as Mr. Gursten’s blogs point out, a lot of the doctors performing these IMEs are anything but independent. Many of them work exclusively for insurance companies and are amazingly consistent at assessing an injured person’s situation in the insurance company’s favor. Hard working folks injured by no fault of their own are being thrown out into the cold. Second, a professional has no right to abuse the power of the position. Here, an objective observer could find that she did so when she prepared her report and again when she filed the grievance. The overwhelming majority of the medical community understands that the Hippocratic Oath has meaning. Do you get it, Dr. Griffin?
Cum Laude graduate of Cumberland School of Law, Pet Mackey is a civil trial litigation expert who represents plaintiffs in business and consumer tort, contracts and construction, employment disputes and insurance. He is board certified as a Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Certified Alabama Mediator, and an “AV” rated lawyer by Martindale-Hubbell.