Lawyer engages in frivolous conduct

By —— Bio and Archives--October 17, 2007

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OSMA member Michael Banks, MD, will finally receive his court-ordered pyament from a plaintiff’s trial lawyer. The order to pay Dr. Banks became final when the Ohio Supreme Court refused to accept the appeal of the plaintiff’s trial lawyer.

The lawyer had challenged the award of sanctions to Dr. Banks, a Cleveland-area orthopedic surgeon. The OSMA Frivolous Lawsuit Committee and the Litigation Center of the AMA and the State Medical Societies submitted a friend of the court brief in the case on Dr. Banks’ behalf.

The case unfolded as follows. In October 2004, a Motion for Sanctions requesting $23,000 was filed on Dr. Banks’ behalf. This $23,000 figure was based upon the facts of the case, the fact that the increase in the doctor’s insurance rates was solely due to the pending suit, and Dr. Banks’ legal expenses.

On Thursday, May 11, 2006, the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas awarded Dr. Banks $4,500 personally against the lawyer in his case.

The lawyer then filed an appeal with the Eighth District Court of Appeals. On May 3, 2007, the appellate court unanimously ruled that the trial court was correct in awarding Dr. Banks sanctions. However, the lawyer then appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court declined to take the case and dismissed the trial attorney’s appeal. By doing this, the sanctions award was upheld and this case has reached its final conclusion.

“I think that lawyers who bring and then pursue a frivolous lawsuit should pay a price. My time and my money are just as valuable as a lawyer’s time and money. It is only when physicians stand up for their rights that we can expect the system to change,” said Dr. Banks.

“It’s significant that the courts did not ignore the egregious behavior of the trial lawyer in this case. The decision lets Ohio physicians know that they have recourse in the courts when a plaintiff’s lawyer engages in frivolous conduct,” said OSMA General Counsel Almeta E. Cooper.


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