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Did This Medical Witness Defraud Thousands of Worker's Compensation Claims? (UPDATED)

Did This Medical Witness Defraud Thousands of Worker's Compensation Claims? (UPDATED)
Photo Credit: bitzcelt via Compfight cc

A medical expert regularly employed by insurance companies to undercut workers' compensation claims lied about how extensive his exams were. Despite the potential for perjury charges, Dr. Michael Katz is still working. Welcome to this installment of Craven Abuses by the Healthcare Industry, Part 1 Milion.

The story starts back in April at a Queens Supreme Court hearing assessing whether laborer Manuel Bermejo workers' comp claim from a fall was denied due to malpractice at the hands of a New York City medical resident. The case names Amsterdam & 76th Associates, LLC, Ibex Construction, LLC and Marble Techniques, Inc., as defendants.

The defense hired Dr. Katz to refute the claim. In his expert testimony Katz claimed that his examination lasted for 20 minutes. Little did the insurance company know, the plaintiff's lawyer had a secret recording of the exam, showing that it lasted exactly one minute and 56 seconds.

According a court transcript obtained by New York Personal Injury Law Blog (you gotta love the Internet), Bermejo's lawyer secretly recorded the exam--Bermejo's second--because he believed Katz lied about the length of the first exam, which Katz said lasted a whopping 45 minutes. The admission of the recording forced presiding Judge Duane Hart to declare a mistrial.

When the Voice contacted Katz regarding his role in the case, he vehemently denied being a "shill" for insurance companies, and insisted he was siding with the city hospital "for the children."

"Every erroneous payment made by The City of New York costs thousands of deserving children a decent education," he says.

Katz also explains that "my review was based on an extensive review of records and the issue was not the clinical exam which was abnormal but causality. Causality references the literature, the mechanism of injury and extensive clinical experience," meaning that the relevant parts of the exam would not have necessarily been physical.

Katz has a history of extremely short exam times and at least one prior challenge to his examinations in court. He also did not appear for a hearing Judge Hart called on Monday to assess the extent of Katz's possible perjury.

Katz is a professional expert witness. He has performed thousands of these procedures, meaning there could be thousands of workers who were defrauded out of their worker's comp. Katz, for his part, feels he is being persecuted.

"This was an assassination attempt against me to obtain outsize settlements with little expenditure of effort," he says.

(h/t: New York Personal Injury Blog)

Update: In a previous version, the post listed the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation as a defendant. In fact, the plaintiff had already discontinued the suit against NYCHHC before the events surrounding the mistrial.

Send your story tips to rbrooks@villagevoice.com.


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