WINFIELD – A Putnam County judge has signed off on 13 orders against a former physician, making him liable for nearly $44 million in damages.
On Oct. 31, orders from Putnam Circuit Judge Phillip M. Stowers against Dr. John A. King were filed. King was an osteopathic surgeon at Putnam General Hospital who was named in 124 medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuits for his work at the hospital between November 2002 and June 2003.
In 2012, Stowers issued default rulings against King in these cases. Last week’s orders were for 13 clients of Charleston attorney Richard D. Lindsay of Tabor Lindsay & Associates.
The amount in damages awarded per plaintiff were varied.
One plaintiff – Morgan McCormick – received $4,533.91 in economic damages, $30,000 in compensatory damages and $100,000 in punitive damages for a total of $134,533.91. Another plaintiff – Kenneth Smith – received $863,636.84 in economic damages, $2.5 million in compensatory damages and $6 million in punitive damages for a total of $9,363,636.84.
The total amounts of the 13 judgments against King were $3,032,820.89 in economic damages, $8.88 million in compensatory damages and $31,998,012.87 in punitive damages. The grand total is $43,910,833.76.
On Wednesday, Lindsay said the plaintiffs in these cases wanted to send a message to King.
"They felt that Dr. King, subsequent to all of the litigation, apparently kept saying there never had been a judgment against him," Lindsay said of his clients. "They wanted to make sure that the general public in West Virginia and other states knew there were judgments against him, and that he couldn’t get rid of them because of punitive damages.
"The primary motivation was to make certain he never raises his head again and never practices medicine in any form."
Lindsay said about half of his original clients chose to pursue these cases against King.
The 13 judgment orders say King performed negligent surgeries, improperly used medical equipment, performed surgeries he wasn’t qualified to perform, performed surgeries without consent, performing unnecessary surgeries.
King eventually moved to Alabama, where he was still able to practice medicine and changed his name to Christopher Wallace Martin citing identity theft. He declared bankruptcy in November 2007, putting all the lawsuits against him on hold. According to the Alabama Board of Medicine, his license was revoked in 2008.
Records show they also denied King’s petition for reinstatement of his license in 2010. Between 2004 and 2006, King either surrendered or lost his license in West Virginia and eight other states.
Hospital Corporation of America owned Putnam General – which is now CAMC Teays Valley Hospital – when King worked there. It paid more than $100 million to settle the lawsuits.
Putnam Circuit Court case numbers 05-C-124 (Henry and Carmella Adkins), 05-C-34 (William Bowen), 04-C-462 (Arthur Browning), 05-C-125 (Wayne Crozier), 05-C-75 (Pamela Erwin), 05-C-441 and 05-C-41 (Jason Lett), 05-C-73 (Harold Glenn Mayfield), 05-C-207 (Morgan McCormick), 05-C-36 (Helen McLemore), 05-C-206 (Jonathan Nemeth), 04-C-464 (Anna Lea Smith), 04-C-461 (Kenneth Smith) and 05-C-102 (Robin Wageman)