PARKERSBURG – A Parkersburg hospital has been ordered to pay a $1.3 million sanction for misconduct during a medical malpractice case.
Wood Chief Circuit Judge Robert Waters ordered Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital to pay $1,359,241.02 in attorney fees and expenses for misconduct regarding a lawsuit filed on behalf of a woman who died from alleged malpractice at the hospital.
The order by Waters said the hospital defrauded the plaintiff, violated court orders, made material misrepresentations of fact, concealed, destroyed and altered evidence, and “wasted countless hours of the Court’s time.”
“Camden-Clark’s strategy in denying, throughout the case, things it knew well to be true went far beyond the privilege of putting the Plaintiff to his proof,” Waters wrote in his decision. “By breaching court orders, filing false discovery responses and by giving and permitting to be given inaccurate testimony under oath, and through multiple false statement to the Court, the Plaintiff and the Jury, Camden-Clark engaged in litigation misconduct.”
The spokesperson for Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital, Greg Smith, said in a prepared statement that the hospital has a history of being a highly ethical institution and they take exception to the findings.
“Our position is a matter of public record for our petition for appeal of the underlying case, which is currently under consideration by the West Virginia Supreme Court,” Smith said.
The case concerning the malpractice was tried in March 2006, involving anesthesiologist, Manish I. Koyawala, M.D., who allegedly overdosed Hilda Boggs with spinal lidocaine then failed to monitor her condition, during surgery to repair a broken ankle, in 2001.
A jury found that Boggs died as a result of the negligent anesthesia care. Jurors awarded $6.5 million to Boggs’ estate, the largest settlement received in Wood County.
On May 22, 2006, Bernard Boggs, on behalf of Hilda Boggs, filed a Renewed Motion for Sanctions and Motion for Attorney’s Fees for misconduct committed by the hospital. Included in the misconduct was the discovery that risk manager Sherry Johnston has interviewed witnesses of her own, and told at two of them to “throw away” or “destroy” notes, copies or documents, they had made regarding Boggs’ surgery, the suit says.
According to the order, Johnston also lied during her testimony about her knowledge of the notes.
The hospital, through attorney Richard Hayhurst, claimed at the trial that it was entitled to instruct the witnesses to destroy notes because of the “peer review” privilege.
According to the order, this evidence was directly relevant to the Plaintiff’s claims of fraudulent concealment and spoliation.
Based on a review of the suit, Water wrote that he found it appropriate to assess Camden-Clark for its litigation misconduct, in this case an award of attorney’s fees and costs.
Bordas and Bordas of Wheeling, was the law firm representing Boggs. According to James G. Bordas Jr., attorneys at the firm spent a combined time of more than 1,700 hours on the case.
Attorneys Christopher Regan and Geoffrey Brown of Bordas and Bordas spent a total of more than 1,555 hours on the case themselves, the suit says. Co-counsel Christopher Rinehart spent almost 4,000 hours on the case.
The state Supreme Court is scheduled to hear motions of whether to consider an appeal on Sept. 19.