Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Thursday, April 26, 2012


 Abraham loses appeal
 against fraud conviction

By David Baker
Posted Thursday April 26, 2012

A former doctor who was sentenced to 4 to 12 years in prison last year after being found guilty of insurance fraud related toa fire that destroyed a nightclub building he owned has lost an appeal. The Appellate Division of state Supreme Court today ruled that the verdict against Akiva Abraham was not against the weight of the evidence and sent the case back to the trial court.

Abraham is also facing a separate civil lawsuit in which it is alleged that he performed an unnecessary surgery without a patient's consent.  The suit also names Samaritan Hospital, alleging that the hospital was negligent in repeatedly granting privileges to Abraham when it knew or should have known that he was unfit to practice medicine.

The six-year-old lawsuit was reported exclusively on this blog's sister Web page, in February.  Appeals of two decisions in that case, one against the hospital and one against the plaintiff, are pending in the Appellate Division.  The case is scheduled for a trial in July.

Abraham, a gynecologist, had his medical license revoked by the state in 2006, which cited 34 counts of misconduct.  His appeal of the revocation also was rejected by the mid-level  appeals court.

A story about today's appeal decision has been posted on the Times Union's website. But as in numerous previous stories the paper has published about Abraham since 2005, there is no mention of the lawsuit in which Abraham and Samaritan Hospital are co-defendants.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Motion denied

State judge denies request in

negligent credentialing lawsuit

By David Baker
Posted Sunday April 15, 2012

A request to separate a malpractice lawsuit against a former doctor from a claim of negligent credentialing against Samaritan Hospital has been denied by a Supreme Court judge.

The lawsuit alleges that the former doctor, Akiva Abraham, performed an unnecessary and unauthorized surgery at Samaritan Hospital in 2004, when he removed a large amount of healthy tissue from a patient’s breast.

The patient, Susan Stalker, filed a lawsuit against Abraham alleging malpractice, and against the hospital, alleging that it negligently granted privileges to a doctor it knew or should have known was incompetent and unfit to practice medicine.

In December, state Supreme Court Judge Stephen A. Ferradino ruled that Samaritan Hospital and its nurses are not liable for the alleged negligence of an independent physician. But he did allow a claim that the hospital was negligent in granting privileges to Abraham to proceed.

Appeals of both decisions are pending.

Abraham, a gynecologist, operated Clifton Park Women’s Health. In 2005 the state revoked his medical license, citing 34 counts of misconduct. He has since been convicted of insurance fraud and is free pending an appeal. In November 2011 he filed for bankruptcy protection.

In January, Stalker’s attorneys asked Ferradino to split the case against Abraham from the claims against Samaritan Hospital, arguing that as the bankruptcy filing has placed an automatic hold on the case against Abraham, Stalker’s case is being delayed.

Bu Ferradino disagreed.

“Initially, it must be noted that the trial in this matter is currently scheduled for July 30, 2012. While there is a possibility that the trial date may have to be postponed pending the bankruptcy discharge, any such postponement would only be for a relatively short time. Such a short delay will in no way prejudice the plaintiff. This is especially true considering that the instant action has been pending for almost six years.”

Ferradino also said that the allegations against Abraham and the hospital are intertwined.

“It is significant that if Dr. Abraham is found not to be negligent in the first instance, no liability can be imposed against the defendant hospital,” he wrote.

If Abraham is found to be liable, the question would be whether the hospital knew or should have known that he was unfit to practice and whether its verification process was adequate.

Samaritan has claimed that it was; that all the required checks were done and nothing was found that would warrant denial of privileges – even though, by the time of his last reappointment Abraham and Samaritan Hospital were named as co-defendants in three separate malpractice lawsuits, and the state office for Professional Medical Conduct had served the hospital with a subpoena seeking records of two patients, both of who had been treated by Abraham.

But citing sections of state laws, the hospital has refused to produce documents relating to Abraham’s credentialing, or to allow staff members with knowledge of it to be deposed. That refusal also was challenged, but both Ferradino and the Appellate Division ruled in favor of the hospital.

Despite its unusual claim of negligent credentialing, this six-year-old case has never been mentioned by the area’s newspapers.

In February of this year, details of the lawsuit appeared in an exclusive story on this blog’s related Web page,

For a direct link to that story, click HERE


Friday, April 13, 2012

Med error claimed

Medication overdose caused
hospital death, lawsuit says

By David Baker
Posted Friday April 13, 2012

An excessive amount of a medication used to treat a heart condition allegedly caused the death of a patient in Samaritan Hospital, according to a lawsuit filed in state Supreme Court, Rensselaer County at the end of last month.

Thomas P. Jubic died in March, 2010, 17 days after he was admitted to the hospital complaining of stomach pain and nine days after he was given overdoses of digoxin, according to legal papers.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are Robert Benton, M.D.; Ruslan Feygin, who is described as a doctor of osteopathic medicine; Maryellen King, a nurse practitioner; Capital Cardiology Associates, P.C.; Samaritan Hospital; and Northeast Health, Inc.

“Defendants Benton, Feygin and/or King negligently started decedent on an excessive dosage of digoxin, causing bradycardia [a slow heart rate] and death,” the suit says.

“Defendants Northeast Health, Capital Cardiology PC and/or Samaritan Hospital of Troy are vicariously liable for the negligent, careless, substandard and improper care and treatment provider to the decedent, including the prescribing, administering and approving of the excessive dosage of digoxin upon the decedent.”

Jubic, a resident of Troy, served in the U.S. Army during World War II and was awarded the Purple Heart, according to an obituary. After military service he was employed as a welder at Portac and was a part-owner of the Snuggery Inn in Troy. He was 85.

The suit was filed by attorney Brian W. Devane of Delmar. Answering papers had not been entered into the county clerk’s computer system on Thursday.

NEXT: A Supreme Court judge has rejected a request to separate a lawsuit alleging negligent credentialing against Samaritan Hospital from a medical malpractice claim against a former doctor now under pre-bankruptcy protection.

Conference held

Deadlines set; motions
pending in hospital’s lawsuit

Posted Friday April 13, 2012

A schedule of deadlines for depositions and paper discovery in the lawsuit Northeast Health, Inc. vs. David Baker was approved at a preliminary conference in Troy on Thursday.

Acting Supreme Court Justice Andrew G. Ceresia signed the order during a 10-minute meeting in chambers. The judge said two motions – one from each side – are pending and that written decisions will be issue at a later date.

In its motion, Northeast Health seeks a dismissal of counterclaims alleging that medical records related to the treatment of Lisa Zenzen Baker in Samaritan Hospital in 2003 were withheld during an earlier wrongful-death lawsuit.

The second motion asks Ceresia to step aside to avoid any appearance of bias. Before becoming a county judge, Ceresia was an attorney with Carter, Conboy, Case, Blackmore, Maloney & Laird – the firm that represented Samaritan Hospital in the wrongful-death case, and whose actions are now an issue in the current litigation.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Decision (apparently) made

Silence from the judge
on request for removal

By David Baker
Posted Wednesday April 11, 2012
(Update added at 5:15 p.m.)

It appears that Acting Supreme Court Judge Andrew Ceresia has decided not to grant a request that he remove himself from a case that involves the actions of a law firm where he was employed before becoming a judge.

With one day left before a conference in Samaritan Hospital vs. David Baker, Ceresia has not issued a decision on a motion for recusal – a request that the hospital has opposed. If he had stepped aside, he would not be conducting the preliminary conference. scheduled for Thursday morning.

A letter to the court clerk sent last week inquiring about the status of the recusal motion has produced no response.

The letter also requested that if the conference is to take place, a court stenographer be present to record the proceedings. Longtime readers of this blog may recall that one of the conferences in the earlier wrongful death case against Samaritan hospital – attended by three defense lawyers against a single unrepresesnted litigant – took place with no stenographer present, and that at subsequent conference and before the stenographer arrived, Judge Stephen A. Ferradino made a sarcastic comment about my request that the proceedings be recorded.

At another conference, a lawyer for the hospital said she wanted a referee to oversee depositions of her clients. According to the rules, such a request is supposed to be made ‘on notice.’ In other words, I should have been informed of it ahead of time. Instead, in less than 30 seconds Ferradino had not only agreed to the request but had picked up a piece of paper on his desk with the name of a retired judge already written on it.

It was obvious that the judge and the lawyer had arranged it all behind my back.

The lawyer was Kathleen Ryan. At that time she was with Carter, Conboy, Case, Blackmore, Maloney & Laird – the same law firm where Ceresia worked before becoming a judge.


UPDATE: After this item was posted, a secretary to the judge called and said that the conference is on for tomorrow. Asked if that means my motion for recusal has been denied, she said she could not provide any information. Asked if the judge would issue a written decision on the recusal motion, she said she could not provide any information. Asked if, as I have requested, there will be a stenographer at the conference, she said that is up to to the judge.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Decision due

Ruling on recusal
request is pending

By David Baker
Posted Monday April 3, 2012

A decision from the judge assigned to a lawsuit in which Samaritan Hospital claims its reputation has been damaged by the use of an Internet domain name and a logo is awaited two weeks after a formal request was made for him to remove himself from the case.

The motion for recusal was filed on March 13. It asked acting Rensselaer County Supreme Court Justice Andrew G. Ceresia to step aside to avoid any appearance of impropriety after it was discovered that between 2000 and 2005 he worked at Carter, Conboy, Case, Blackmore, Maloney & Laird, where he represented insurance companies and in at least one case defended St. Mary’s Hospital in Troy in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

A counterclaim in Samaritan’s lawsuit alleges that the hospital withheld medical records during a wrongful-death case against it arising from its care of Lisa Baker, who died while a patient in 2003.

The hospital’s attorneys in that lawsuit were Carter, Conboy, Case, Blackmore, Maloney & Laird.

As was reported here last month, Samaritan Hospital has filed legal papers objecting to the request for Ceresia to step aside.

In February, the hospital asked Ceresia to throw out the counterclaims in the suit. That motion also is pending and should not be decided until after the request for recusal is settled.

Ceresia will have to make a decision soon; a preliminary conference in the case is scheduled for Thursday of next week