West Virginia Record

Monday, February 24, 2020

Federal judge denies motions in lawsuit filed by Matulis’ insurance company

By Kyla Asbury | Nov 3, 2017

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CHARLESTON – A federal judge has two motions in a lawsuit filed by Westfield Insurance Company against Dr. Steven Matulis and those who filed claims against him for alleged sexual assault.

U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver Jr. issued the order on Oct. 26.

“Pending before the court are two motions for a protective order to stay discovery, or, in the alternative, to extend time to respond to discovery, one by defendant J.L. and the other by defendants T.W., A.H., C.S. and A.M., filed on September 28 and October 2, 2017, respectively,” Copenhaver wrote. “In the two motions, the defendants argue that because the discovery in the underlying civil actions against Dr. Matulis is effectively stayed, they are unable to respond to discovery requests from the plaintiff adequately.”

Westfield argues that delaying discovery in the declaratory judgment action until the underlying action’s fact-finding is complete would defeat the purpose of the lawsuit. It further claims that the discovery it seeks centers on the nature of the patients’ allegations and not on the factual proof of underlying events, rendering the discovery in the patients’ suits against Matulis less germane to the present action.

“The court agrees that there is no good cause to stay all discovery,” Copenhaver wrote. “As plaintif points out, defendants are free to note in their responses what information they lack due to the effective stay of discovery in the underlying actions.”

Accordingly, Copenhaver denied both motions.

Westfield Insurance Company filed a lawsuit against Matulis, Charleston Gastroenterology Associates, T.W., K.H., T.F., J.L., A.G., B.D., A.H., A.M., C.S. and J.W. on Feb. 14 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

The ten women known by their initials underwent colonoscopies performed by Matulis and alleged that without their consent, Matulis sexually assaulted them and/or inappropriate placed his hands upon them while they were distracted or impaired and, as such, the colonoscopies they received were not medically reliable or performed within the applicable standard of care due to Matulis’ alleged perversions and proclivity for sexually assaulting unconscious female patients during colonoscopies.

The insurance company claims it covered Matulis and the medical firm he worked for between March 2015 and March 2016, but that the policy does not provide coverage for the defense or indemnification of Charleston Gastroenterology Associates or Matulis for those claims asserted by the claimants in connection with the alleged sexual assault of the claimants and/or the provision of inadequate medical care to the claimants at any time.

The claims for vicarious liability against the medical practice and Matulis are not covered under the insurance policy because there is no allegation that Matulis caused “bodily injury,” according to the suit.

Westfield is seeking for an order that states it does not have to provide coverage for the defense or indemnification of CGA or Matulis for the claims asserted by the claimants and that it has no duty to defend or indemnify CGA and/or Matulis against the claims. It is being represented by Brent K. Kesner and Tanya M. Kesner of Kesner & Kesner.

The defendants are represented by John A. Kessler of Carey Scott Douglas & Kessler; Adam Campbell and Matthew Smith of Campbell & Smith; C. Benjamin Salango of Preston & Salango; Jan Dils and Kelly Little Guice of Jan Dils Attorneys At Law; Michael J. Del Giudice of Ciccarello Del Giudice & LaFon; Marvin W. Masters of the Masters Law Firm; David H. Carriger and W. Stuart Calwell of the Calwell Practice; P. Rodney Jackson of the Law Office of P. Rodney Jackson; and James R. Akers II of Akers Law Offices.

Charleston Area Medical Center revoked Matulis’ privileges at the hospital in 2016. In May, Matulis stopped his medical practice and voluntarily switched in license to practice to inactive.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 2:17-cv-01269

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