Thursday, October 11, 2007

Emory University: The Peculiar Ruling of Judge Castellani (UPDATE)

In April 2005, Kevin Kuritzky was expelled from Emory University's Medical School. He maintained that his expulsion was due to his documentation of a plethora of violations by Emory staff at both Grady Hospital and at the VA Hospital. Thus, in January of 2006, he filed suit for Breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and assault and battery against Emory University.

During the discovery period, the plaintiff asked for a series of documents that can be broken into nine categories:

1)emails from plaintiff's student email account while plaintiff was was a medical student at Emory University

2)emails between members of Emory vis a vis Kuritzky,

3)specifically emails from Kevin to Dr. Zaidan,

4)emails between Kevin and Jonathon Leake, in which Leake allegedly made threatening statements,

5) press releases, any other communications between Kevin and any Emory employee vis a vis the charges brought against Kevin,

6)All communications between plaintiff and any Emory University employee vis a vis charges brought against the plaintiff

7)All records of communications between plaintiff and Emory University staff subsequent to plaintiff's expulsion

8)Records of communications between plaintiff and several attendings and any of those individuals with any other person referencing the plaintiff.

9)all records defining Emory's own policies on such matters.

They were given 30 days, according to Georgia law, though, according to Kuritzky they took even longer than that, and then according to file no. 06CV2066-1, the judge, Robert J. Castellani, issued his findings.

To item one the finding was

the defendants say they have destroyed these documents, thus, willful spoilation is admitted

To item two

the defendants have not produced all of these documents and there is no excuse for the same not to be produced

to item three

Dr. Zaidan and Dr. Heilpern's email accounts should have these communications even if defendants have destroyed the hard copy from plaintiff's email account, and thus defendants are in contempt

to item 4

the defendants claim all of these documents have been dstroyed, thus,
willful spoilation is admitted

to item 5

there is no excuse for these documents not being produced, thus,
defendants are in willful contempt

to item 6

even if plaintiff's student email account has been deleted by the defendants
resulting in willful spoilation, the accounts of others still at Emory should
provide these documents
(but didn't)

to item 7

the defendants have failed to produce all communications since plaintiff's
expulsion without excuse

to item 8

each of these individuals received and sent emails from and to plaintiff
and their respective email accounts should have documents requested

to item 9

Emory is shown to have violated its own retention policy

It should be noted that Emory's own retention policy stated that documents must be kept for up to five years depending on the document and thus Emory violated its own policies along with this particular order. While the findings were harsh, the judge didn't actually issue a ruling in the case at that particular time.

In fact, the judge didn't issue a final ruling on this matter until the 19th of September 2007. It was "settled" the 19th of September 2007 (civil action file no. 06CV2066-1), when the judge issued this motion as denied to be rendered moot, a legal term, which had the practical effect of kicking the decision up to a higher appeal's court at the request of the plaintiff's attorney. The plaintiff's attorney wanted this moved to a higher appeal's court because they had grown frustrated with the judge's non ruling over the previous nine months.

In order to know why the judge never issued a final disposition on this particular matter, we would need to get inside their head. Since, I don't want to speculate, assert, or conclude, I won't do that. I will only present you all with the facts.

There is one more fact that is of interest in this case, and that is the donor rolls for Emory University. To save you the trouble of a long winded search here is a cut and paste of the important part...

The Rev. Betty Clanton Castellani 83T The Honorable Robert J.
Castellani 66L

Those names would be the judge and his wife. Again, I will leave the speculation to all of you about what all of this means.


When I cross posted this piece at Redstate, I ran into a skeptical attorney from the Atlanta area

Here is what he said and it will follow with Kevin's responses...

Err, if plaintiff got judgements on the pleadings that...
That suggests

(1) That the defendant's affirmative defenses were stripped as a sanction for discovery violations;

(2) That the plaintiff won;

(3) That any motion pending before the court at the time JOP was granted was moot (as you note above), and the court properly ruled it such; and

(4) This whole diary is silly.Do you have that order granting JOP? The DeKalb clerk's office is kinda surly, but they're required to produce, for a minimal fee, a copy of any publicly filed document

here is Kevin's response

I understand what he is saying - he tore Emory a new one - and then he said he didn't want to punish them. Yes, he went to the law school- that is certainly not an indictment of anything - but he shouldhave disclosed that he was an ongoing donor and President of theEmory Law Alumni Association when he was handling the case.

One thing that I can say for certain is that no "facets" of Emoryhave been in front of him with a case of this magnitude and publicitypotential with this much inflammatory information and hugepotential. He knew that from the start when they were discussing media strategy in the court briefs. Comparing run-of-the-millmedical malpractice cases to this case before him is like comparing apples and oranges.

At the last court hearing, there were 6representatives from Emory in front of him, including the senior vicepresident and general counsel - that is highly unusual.Yes the legal world moves slow - I know that from my personal experience - but this judge refused to enforce his own orders. That is bizarre, and combined with him not disclosing things he shouldhave only makes it more suspicious. He is not beyond reproach, andhe has shown that.

the skeptical attorney was still not convinced...

deeply moving...

So was there a judgment on the pleadings or not? A JOP is the same as a jury verdict to all intents and purpose. That would render everything here moot.

Kevin responded again,

just let him know that the judge did not make a judgment onthe spoliation pleading enforcing his own order. He can go through thearchive at the courthouse to verify this. It is not my job orinclination to persuade this as it detracts from the larger issue ofthe injustices that are being committed in the name of money and powerat Emory. Judge Castellani's suspected corruption, or evidenced incompetence or lack of courage, is only a rabbit trail in this larger picture. The courthouse pleadings speak for themselves...

If there are anymore skeptics please feel free to render your skepticism in the comments section and it will be dealt with...

I realize that anyone that picks up any part of this story in the middle will get lost in any particular area. Thus, I have put together a summary of the entire fiasco that tries to put all of its moving parts together in one piece. Please read it for guidance. Also, please check out the recommendations that I and my colleagues have put together for fixing Grady Hospital.

1 comment:

Snooper said...

Quite a show this evening!

Let's Roll!