Philadelphia, PA (Law Firm Newswire) - Can Doctors Be Silenced? Philadelphia Jury Verdict Says No. Philadelphia-based lawyer Clifford E. Haines, president of the litigation firm, Haines & Associates, won an important victory in federal court on Friday, April 27th. The jury awarded $380,000 to Dr. Stephen Graboff, a board certified orthopedic surgeon and well known expert witness, who brought a defamation claim against the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (together, the AAOS). The jury also returned a verdict against the Colleran law firm, which had hired Dr. Graboff, because it turned over Dr.Graboff’s draft report to the defendants in the underlying case, after “whiting out” the word DRAFT from the report.
The verdict is significant because Mr. Haines argued that the expert witness program developed by the AAOS was intended to silence doctors who testify against other doctors as a way to deal with the medical malpractice insurance crisis, and the jury apparently agreed with that assessment.
Dr. Graboff was retained by the Colleran law firm to provide expert witness testimony for one of their clients. Graboff prepared a draft report, but the firm whited-out the draft title and submitted Graboff's report as final. After the law firm submitted his preliminary report as final, Graboff was suspended from the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), in June 2009. The Association then publicly listed Dr. Graboff's suspension on their website and their internet newsletter, AAOS NOW. The exposure resulted in significant questioning of Graboff's reputation and a loss of income.
"This case was really about standing up for the rights of medical expert witnesses and the patients for whom they testify. I believe that medical associations like The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (the AAOS) are going after doctors who help prosecute a patient’s claim of medical malpractice. The principle we're fighting against -- the silencing of doctors – is why we took on this case."
Haines has a long career in medical malpractice and legal malpractice litigation and is past-president of the Pennsylvania Bar Association "Medical organizations are trying to deal with medical malpractice not by making sure their surgeons are doing top-notch work, but by going after the guys acting as expert witnesses," says Haines.
In addition to awarding Dr. Graboff $380,000 the verdict gives him license to testify that he had won a lawsuit against the AAOS for falsely portraying him in their publication “AAOS Now” on the Internet.
About Haines & Associates
Philadelphia firmHaines & Associates (http://www.haines-law.com) is a Philadelphia boutique litigation firm uniquely positioned to meet the needs of both individuals and businesses in the PA-NJ-DE tri-state area. The firm’s areas of practice include legal malpractice, medical malpractice, commercial, professional negligence, intellectual property, and personal injury litigation. Because we have remained small, we creatively tailor our services to the individual needs and objectives of our clients. Haines & Associates was founded by nationally recognized litigator Clifford Haines, consistently voted by his peers to be one of the top 100 Pennsylvania lawyers. A leader in the legal community, Mr. Haines is the immediate past president of the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He’s also a former Chancellor of the 13,000- member Philadelphia Bar Association and belongs to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.