What should Judge Hobby Spaulding do about the liars?
We're not the only West Virginians wondering as much these days, after a three-minute short featuring plaintiffs suing Putnam General Hospital and Dr. John King surfaced last week on the popular video sharing web site, YouTube.
The plaintiffs -- six of a total of 122 who've filed lawsuits over injuries allegedly suffered under Dr. King's care -- are the stars of this show. It juxtaposes their recorded statements in sworn depositions with surveillance video and photos that appear to directly contradict their words.
Ahhh. The wild and wonderful World Wide Web.
A woman claims that since Dr. King's malpractice, she can no longer dance. Photos show her dancing at her daughter's wedding.
A man says he's had trouble getting into his car since his surgery with Dr. King. Then a video shows him getting into his car, effortlessly.
Another says he can no longer grip things with his left hand, but a video shows him firmly gripping a case of Coors Light, carrying it to his car.
A third says an unnecessary Dr. King surgery left him with back and leg pain, but he's then shown chopping wood and starting a motorized wood cutter.
Seeing that neither its starring plaintiffs nor their lawyers are publicly denying the blatant fraud this video suggests, we're left to assume the worst -- that they did indeed feign their injuries to cash in on a big lawsuit settlement opportunity.
The case of the YouTube Six, of course, begs the obvious question: Of the 100-plus plaintiffs who filed similar medical malpractice lawsuits against Putnam General and Dr. King, how many other fraudsters exist? How many of these injuries are real, versus fabricated so a lawyer might file a complaint?
It's sad we have to even ask, particularly for Dr. King's actual victims. They'll get less justice in slower time thanks to these impostors -- this much is certain. Such deception doesn't come without cost.
These plaintiffs and their complicit family members -- one woman's husband testified in the video on behalf of his "immobile" wife, who is then shown walking around the front of their home -- should be ashamed of themselves. Moreover, in light of this evidence, they and their lawyers should be swiftly investigated by local authorities and, if appropriate, prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
If West Virginia continues to casually tolerate such behavior in our courts, we'll continue to get the civil justice system we deserve.