An often forgotten reality of trial law is the struggle that ensues just to get the full scope of information about a situation to see daylight and presented in front of a jury. While the justice system is the best tool we have to root through disagreement and get to the bottom of a situation, it is not without its challenges. For one thing, in many cases, including medical malpractice lawsuits, the opposing side is not willing to easily give up various pieces of information. The process known as “discovery” is when each side collects this information–in the form of document requestions, written questions, and depositions (interviews with relevant parties). The discovery process is usually the longest aspect of a case and, at times, it can get quite heated.
Beside fights over what material needs to be handed over by a party, in certain situatoins there may also be accusation of tampering with the witnesses. This involves various actions where a party seeks to unfairly influence or intimidate the story presented by a witness or relevant party to a particuar event. On many occassions that witness might be a former employee or co-worker who has unflattering or relevant (but damaging) information about the professional or incident. Unfortunately, some actors invovled in these legal battles are willing to do whatever it takes to deny liability, reject responsibility, and avoid being held accountable for their conduct.
Witness Intimidation Claims
For example, KRIS TV reported recently on a medical doctor who is facing witness intimidation charges for conduct involving a former nurse practitioner in his office. According to the report, the problems initially stemmed from alleged malpractce involving use of pain medication. The story does not delve into many specifics, but often these cases involves doctors accused of administered pain medications unreasonably–often without proper check-ups or in unreasonable doses which allow abuse. Whatever the case here, one of the nurse practitioner’s working in the doctor’s office allegedly reported her concerns to the state medical board.
In the aftermath of the nurse’s complaint–which the story suggests led to an ongoing investigation–the doctor tried to retaliate. He apparently filed a lawsuit against the nurse and sought a restraining order against her. Yet, an amended complaint to the state medical board suggests that this lawsuit and restraining order were without merit and instead were motivated solely by a desire to intimidate the nurse practitioner. For exampe the restraining order indicated that the nurse was prohibited from “Communicating in any manner with the Texas Medical Board, unless in reply to a specific inquiry initiated by a representative of the [Texas Medical] Board.” The stated purpose, therefore, was to prevent her from speaking about her allegations.
This case is a good reminder of the extreme lengths that some often go to in order to cover up past mistakes or protect themselves against allegations. For this reason, it is absolutely critical for all community members to stand up strongly for their rights. Experienced lawyers are also crucial at these times to take on the often-aggressive tactics employed by professionals or big medical interests seeking to deflect accountability and responsibility.
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