In June, I wrote about the gag order imposed by Putnam County Circuit Judge O.C. Spaulding in the medical malpractice cases pending against Dr. John King. The order was prompted, at least in part, by a video that appeared on YouTube, which purported to show one of the plaintiffs pushing a shopping cart, which she apparently had testified she was no longer able to do. The trouble was the woman in the video wasn’t the plaintiff, she was someone unrelated to the litigation. At a hearing on June 8, the defense lawyers admitted to giving materials to their media consultant, who provided them to (unnamed) third parties. The court also entered an order, effective June 8, sealing all pleadings filed in the cases.
Now, according to Associated Press reporter Larry Messina, whose story appeared in yesterday’s Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette, on June 26 (more than two weeks after the gag order was entered), another video was posted on YouTube, which consisted of clips from six of the plaintiffs’ depositions, followed by clips from surveillance videos of five of the plaintiffs, showing them purportedly engaged in activities they said they couldn’t perform. Messina’s attempts to reach the poster were not successful, and I was unable to find the video today on YouTube when I searched for it. Judge Spaulding is apparently aware of the video, but has not indicated how he intends to proceed.
Obviously, the video was intended to portray the plaintiffs negatively, but even if its goal was to make them look sympathetic, it is prohibited by the gag order. Judge Spaulding should make a serious inquiry into how the video ended up on YouTube, and sanction whomever is responsible. The other Putnam County judge presiding over the King malpractice cases, Edward Eagloski, has already revoked the pro hac vice admission of a Texas lawyer who had appeared on behalf of the defendants, and the same thing could easily happen here.