Doctor Files Malpractice Suit Against Attorneys

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , May 2, 2013

For physicians, it might seem like the ultimate revenge fantasy—suing for malpractice the malpractice attorneys who represented them, but not to their satisfaction.

For Berton Forman, MD, it's a vivid reality that may be a cautionary tale for other physicians.

Forman, a Nassau County, N.Y. anesthesiologist, has no fear of the legal arena, even though malpractice litigation has already cost him $1 million from his insurance coverage. That ultimately derailed his career. And in a rare twist, the 60-year-old doctor is looking to litigate—this time, to save his reputation. Forman has been waiting five years for his day in court.

In 2008, Forman filed a breach of contract lawsuit against his original malpractice attorneys, Martin Clearwater & Bell, LLP. Opening arguments in the New York Supreme Court lawsuit are scheduled to begin this week.

It's an unfolding case that should be watched by other physicians concerned about malpractice litigation impacts. Such a case is extremely unusual, says Henry J. Miller, an attorney representing Martin Clearwater & Bell. "You've got a legal malpractice case underlying a medical malpractice case," Miller told me. "I haven't seen one like it."

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