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Doctor Files Malpractice Suit Against Attorneys

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, May 2, 2013

In 2006, Forman was one of the defendants in a malpractice case settlement that he says led, in part, to his eventually quitting medicine after practicing for 30 years.

Forman was part of a group that included several physicians, the insurer and hospital, who paid out $1.3 million stemming from a complicated and problematic delivery of a baby at Mercy Hospital in Nassau County, NY. The baby survived, but lawyers for Martin Clearwater & Bell said the baby was severely brain damaged.

In his lawsuit, Forman says he's seeking unspecific damages for breach of contract, misrepresentation, and conflict of interest because he was told he was at most 15% to 20% responsible for the malpractice award.

When it was finally paid out, he was left to pay a majority—$1 million out of his insurance policy—of the $1.3 million settlement. Mercy paid $300,000, he said.

That $1 million payment eventually "triggered an investigation by the New York State Office of Professional Medical Conduct," and made it difficult for him to gain employment after he left Mercy, Forman said in a statement. Forman says he eventually retired for health reasons.

A review of Forman's complaint and an interview with him suggests the trial may raise questions about loyalty, agreements among physicians, hospitals and insurers, and proper recordkeeping and clinical decisions. The case also shows mistakes Forman says he made in agreeing to a settlement, without looking at all the details, which he says should be a lesson to other physicians. He says the lawyers asked him to be a "team player" prior to the settlement years ago, but he considers that concession a mistake.

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