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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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  1. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  2. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  3. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  4. I totally agree with John Smith.

  5. An idea that would harm the public good which is protected by licensing. Might as well abolish doctor and health care professions licensing too. Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Would open the floodgates of mischief and abuse. Even veteranarians are licensed. How has deregulation served the public good in banking, for example? Enough ideology already!

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