Jury Bias in Medical Malpractice Trials

Medical malpractice lawyers face extreme jury bias at trial.  Much of the bias arises from favorable attitudes about physicians.  These attitudes persist despite the fact that medical malpractice is rampant, claiming 100,000 to 400,000 American lives every year, as well many serious personal injuries, such as paralysis, stroke, brain damage, cerebral palsy, septic shock, amputation, quadriplegia, paraplegia and the like.  Anti-plaintiff bias is not limited to jurors.  Judges also frequently display bias in favor of doctors and nurses who have committed medical negligence or hospital negligence.  A Mississippi white collar crime case is a fine example of pro-doctor bias faced by medical malpractice law firms.

In 2019, four medical professionals in Mississippi pleaded guilty to healthcare fraud. Two doctors and two registered nurses were involved in a scheme to illegally distribute and promote compounded vitamin pills and prescription pain creams. 

The physicians had been writing prescriptions for a specific pharmacy which then received payment from health insurers. The providers received a kickback of a percentage of the compensation from the pharmacy. The physicians prescribed medications in multitudes, even photocopying forms and setting prescriptions up for automatic refills, in hopes of a large payout. The prescriptions they were writing were for compounded pills, which are intended to be created specifically for an individual’s needs.

The allegations against the four providers alleged that they “participated in a scheme to defraud Tricare and other private health care benefit programs by prescribing and dispensing medically unnecessary compounded medications, some of which included ketamine, a controlled substance, to individuals, at times without first examining them, for the purpose of having a … compounding pharmacy dispense these medically unnecessary compounded medications.” It was estimated that more than $400 million was paid by Tricare and the other health benefit programs.

All four pleaded guilty and were charged with 15 combined counts of conspiracy to commit health fraud and mail fraud. One of the physicians was also charged with conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks, conspiracy to distribute and dispense a controlled substance, and for distributing and dispensing a controlled substance. 

The physician who was most involved was originally sentenced to nine years in federal prison and forced to pay $10 million in restitution. His sentence was reduced to four years and $7.2M after U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett determined that this conviction had set the physician straight. During the trial, the physician atoned for his wrongdoing by saying, “I was an idiot, pardon my harsh language. This has been a monkey on my back. I want this all to go away, but it never goes away.”  The judge admonished the physician by stating, “I don’t know of anyone I’ve sentenced who was any more remorseful. The court concluded you will not offend again. You will make your parents proud.” 

It is not surprising that white collar criminals are treated so graciously by a federal or state court judge. It happens all of the time, especially when doctors are involved. Medical malpractice lawyers, like a medical malpractice lawyer in Cleveland, OH from Mishkind Kulwicki Law Co., LPA, face this same bias from jurors, but have experience with these cases and can help you get compensated.