Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Decisions not public

      Decisions in ‘negligent-credentialing’
      lawsuit still not filed in clerk's office

By David Baker
Posted Saturday Sept. 22, 2012

Six weeks after the settlement of the Susan Stalker vs. Samaritan Hospital lawsuit, decisions made by the judge on last-minute motions still have not been filed in the office of the county clerk.

The lawsuit ended, six years after it was filed, on July, 30,  the first day of trial.  On that day, several motions were due to be decided by state Supreme Court Justice Stephen A. Ferradino.

After a motion is decided, the winning attorney is required to file the decision and order with the clerk.

But as of Sept. 20, the last item listed on the county clerk’s web page was shown as filed on July 27 -- three days before the start of the trial.

A letter inquiring about the missing documents was sent to the clerk of the Supreme Court  earlier this month.  There has been no response.

Along with the decision, other documents might indicate the terms of the apparent settlement of the case.  It is this information that attorneys for the hospital would want to keep from the public.  And not just the hospital’s lawyers; back before the case was settled, Stalker’s attorneys told her they didn’t want anything in the newspapers.

Until about four years ago, keeping news of medical malpractice lawsuits from the public was easy;  the newspapers ignored them -- while receiving a steady stream of advertising revenue from the area’s hospitals.

But now, with this blog and its sister web page, northeasthealthclaims, listing many of these lawsuits, the attorneys are apparently withholding public documents from view -- and ignoring the rules of the court in doing it.

BACK IN JUNE, before the Stalker vs. Samaritan Hospital and Akiva Abraham ‘negligent-credentialing’ lawsuit ended, an e-mail about the case was sent to Times Union reporter Robert Gavin.  Gavin covers legal issues for the paper.

Gavin responded by asking that one of the documents in the case be e-mailed to him.

It was.  But no story appeared.

After the case -- according to the court’s web page -- ended with a  settlement,  a tweet was sent to Gavin.  He answered, and in response to his e-mailed request for ‘info’, it was pointed out that not only had there been a settlement, but that the court’s decisions had not been filed as required - an apparent effort  to keep details of the settlement from public view - making it doubly newsworthy.

That was back on Sept. 1.   There has been nothing further from Gavin.

And the TU’s six-year record of ignoring this case of obvious public interest continues.

AT THE END OF LAST WEEK, after a tweet was posted on Twitter about the Times Union’s non-coverage of lawsuits against area hospitals, TU reporter Jordan Carleo-Evangelist tweeted his opinion --  insisting that it was not because of advertising revenue the paper receives from hospitals -- and claiming that such a suggestion was an attack on his colleagues ethics. 

After a series of tweets back and forth (see below), he was then asked to say what, if not the ad revenue, he think is the reason for the non coverage.

That was over a week ago.  He still has not responded.

HOSPITALS DON'T MAKE JUST MEDICAL ERRORS; they also make billing mistakes, like this one in 2003 when Lisa’s insurance was charged several thousand dollars for a single insulin shot.

Click then click on ‘billing error’ to download a 1-page letter sent in response to a request for an itemized bill.