I wrote last week about the video that was posted on YouTube on June 26, which consisted of clips from depositions of six medical malpractice plaintiffs followed by clips from surveillance videos of five of them, which purport to show contradictions between their testimony and their activities. The plaintiffs are suing Dr. John King for malpractice. Also, last week, a jury ruled that the hospital that hired and credentialed King and HCA, its corporate parent, could be defendants in the lawsuits.
According to a story in the Saturday Gazette-Mail (Charleston, WV), lawyers for HCA sent a letter last Thursday to Putnam County Circuit Judge O.C. Spaulding, in which they denied that their client had anything to do with the video. The video posted on June 26 came after the circuit court imposed a gag order and sealed the pleadings on June 8. That order was necessitated, at least in part, by an earlier video posted on YouTube that purported to show surveillance of one of the plaintiffs, but actually was another of a person unrelated to the litigation. That video had been released by a media consultant retained by the defendants.
In the letter, HCA’s lawyers advised the court that they had informed their media consultant, who has not been identified, and a group known as the Center for Individual Freedom of the court’s June 8 gag order. However, two other groups, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation and the National Federation of Republican Assemblies, mentioned the June 26 video in e-mails sent to the Associated Press on July 20, in which they decried lawsuit abuse. A representative of the Republican group denied receiving the video or having any contact with anyone involved in the malpractice cases.
I think HCA’s lawyers’ letter raises more questions that it answers. The video was made by someone who had access to both the plaintiffs’ video depositions and their surveillance videos, which would seem to be a pretty small number of people. And I’m willing to bet that the defendants had not shared the surveillance videos with the plaintiffs. I suspect that a third party, who was furnished with the deposition videos and the surveillance videos, made the YouTube video and posted it. The court needs to find out who’s responsible so that it can prevent this conduct from continuing to occur.