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Weinberger cases settle for $55M

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Hundreds of patients of a former Merrillville ear, nose and throat doctor serving a seven-year federal sentence for health-care fraud will be compensated for their medical malpractice claims through a $55 million settlement.

The Indiana Department of Insurance and two law firms that represent 282 malpractice claimants announced the settlement in a joint statement Monday. The patients represent the majority of more than 350 malpractice claims against former Dr. Mark Weinberger, who billed himself as “The Nose Doctor.” The settlement involves patients represented by Cohen & Malad LLP of Indianapolis and Theodoros & Rooth P.C. of Merrillville.

Weinberger was sentenced in October after he pleaded guilty to 22 counts of health care fraud. Weinberger eluded authorities for years after initial malpractice claims were filed in 2004. He was discovered hiding in the Italian Alps in 2009.

Patients accused Weinberger of performing unnecessary or outmoded surgeries, including drilling holes in patients’ sinuses, which worsened their conditions. Weinberger refused to answer questions in the civil cases, attorneys said.

“I am pleased that, after over eight years, the parties were able to overcome the roadblocks that had been preventing settlement,” Indiana Department of Insurance Commissioner Stephen W. Robertson said in a statement.

The settlement was signed Monday by Lake Superior Judge John Pera.

“Coming to a resolution of the cases with the department goes a long way toward closure for Dr. Weinberger’s patients,” said David Cutshaw of Cohen & Malad.

Under the settlement, the Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund will provide $55 million to pay malpractice claims. Cutshaw and Barry Rooth of Theodoros & Rooth said Monday that litigation against Weinberger's medical malpractice insurance carrier will continue.

“There are limits of liability that are still in our view available,” Rooth said in an interview.

Cutshaw said plaintiffs signed off on settlements that were reviewed by an ethicist who assigned value to each claim based on certain objective factors. Claimants were aware of the total settlement, how much they would receive and how much others, identified by initials, would receive.

“On behalf of our clients, I’d like to express our appreciation to Commissioner Robertson for his willingness to take the necessary and unprecedented steps to compensate Weinberger’s many victims,” Rooth said in the statement. “It’s been a long road for them.”

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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