Saturday, February 16, 2013

Litigants Are Not Your Clients

A longtime reader of our newsletter emailed us with a problem sometime back and has asked us to share it as a cautionary tale for other expert witnesses:

Expert Witness -- An individual located my expert services online approximately one year ago. He sent me an email and asked to review his case. He disagreed with a medical procedure done on him.

I verbally and in writing explained that my fee is $500.00 for a merit evaluation.

He had previously had an independent peer review performed by the facility's physicians who agreed with the procedure done.

The individual felt that the procedure was not indicated and that it caused him anxiety and performance problems that resulted in his divorce.

After reviewing the case, I concurred with the implanting physicians, the medical facility and the independent peer review's findings.

The individual was not happy with my opinions and wanted a full report.

I sent him my opinions via email and verbally.

He wanted a full report.

I explained that a full report will require an additional fee. My merit evaluation is only for a review and verbal opinions, although I was kind enough to include my opinions in an email in a written format.

He remained convinced that I had not thoroughly evaluated his case and was dissatisfied.

A year later, he served me via certified mail a demand letters asking for $10,000 up front to avoid his filing a small claims lawsuit for breach of contract and not providing a written report.


Rosalie's Response -- Dr. X, this is an easy one -- I recommend to my clients that they not work with individuals/litigants, because of potential situations like this and similar. Attorneys "know the drill," but individuals do not. You did "legal work" for a non-legal client, and rarely does good come from that.

In the future, if/when you get a call from an individual, simply inform him/her that you do medical-legal consulting work only for attorneys, and they should ask their attorney to call you. If no attorney, pass. Too much risk for the pay.

Lesson learned.

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