Judge sanctions Weinberger for noncooperation with insurer

Jennifer Nelson
September 17, 2012
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A federal judge in Hammond has entered a default against former ear, nose and throat doctor Mark Weinberger and other defendants for their noncooperation with his medical malpractice insurance company regarding hundreds of pending malpractice claims.

U.S. Judge Jon E. DeGuilio ordered the default against Weinberger, The Nose and Sinus Center LLC, The Merrillville Center for Advanced Surgery LLC, and Subspecialty Centers of America LLC Sept. 12 after considering whether to adopt Magistrate Judge Andrew Rodovich’s recommendation that default judgment be entered against the Weinberger defendants.

The Medical Assurance Company Inc. sought discovery sanctions against those defendants stemming from Weinberger’s constant refusal to answer questions during deposition. Weinberger repeatedly asserted the Fifth Amendment to all 344 questions, including those about his background and education. After a warning in 2011 from the court that refusal to provide substantive responses would result in severe sanctions, the Weinberger defendants said they would cooperate. However, the defendants continued to assert the Fifth Amendment to the amended discovery responses.

The defendants claimed they would answer questions after Weinberger’s criminal trial wrapped up. He recently pleaded guilty to 22 counts. His plea is pending before Chief Judge Philip Simon, with sentencing set for Oct. 12.

The Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund and Weinberger’s former patients who are pursuing malpractice claims against him – as well as the Weinberger defendants – objected to Rodovich’s report and recommendation. The non-Weinberger defendants believe the entry of default judgment would prejudice them more than Weinberger, and they sought clarification that the default judgment wouldn’t terminate the duty to defend or for the judge to instead impose lesser sanctions.

DeGuilio decided to impose lesser sanctions. He noted that the intent of the Weinberger defendants’ conduct so far has been to delay litigation rather than to assert constitutional privilege in good faith. While Weinberger has the right to assert the privilege and refuse some testimony, he has yet to provide a justification for a blanket claim of privilege, even on questions that have no bearing on the criminal charges, DeGuilio wrote.

The sanction will prevent them from participating in the case in any way “by treating them as if they had never appeared at all, and would also be consistent with other enumerated sanctions, such as ‘prohibiting the disobedient party from supporting or opposing designated claims or defense, or from introducing designated matters in evidence,’” he wrote.  

DeGuilio also ordered the Weinberger defendants, their attorney or both to pay reasonable expenses, including attorney fees caused by their failure to comply with the court’s discovery orders.

That Weinberger has pleaded guilty does not justify relief from the sanctions, he wrote, as it doesn’t make up for the repeated bad faith misuse of the Fifth Amendment, and the defendants have already once misrepresented their intent to provide discovery responses. There is also a chance that Simon will not accept the plea agreement and the criminal proceedings will continue beyond October.

The order came in The Medical Assurance Company Inc. v. Mark S. Weinberger, M.D., et al., 4:06-CV-117.



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  1. I commend Joe for standing up to this tyrant attorney! You ask why? Well I’m one of David Steele victims. I was in desperate need of legal help to protect my child, David saw an opportunity, and he demanded I pay him $3000. Cash. As I received motions and orders from court he did nothing! After weeks of emails asking him to address the legal issues, he responded by saying he was “on vacation “and I should be so lucky to have “my attorney” reply. Finally after lie on top of lie I asked for a full refund, which he refused. He then sent me “bills” for things he never did, such as, his appearance in the case and later claimed he withdrew. He never filed one document / motion for my case! When I finally demanded he refund my money he then turn to threats which scared my family for our lives. It seem unreal we couldn’t believe this guy. I am now over $100,000 in debt digging out of the legal mess he caused my family. Later I was finally able to hire another law office. I met Joe and we worked diligently on my case. I soon learn Joe had a passion for helping people. As anyone who has been through a legal battle it is exhausting. Joe was always more than happy to help or address an issue. Joe was knowledgeable about all my concerns at the same time he was able to reduce the stress and anxieties of my case. He would stay late and come in early, he always went the extra mile to help in any way he could. I can only imagine what Joe and his family has been through, my prayers go out to him and all the victims.

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  5. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise