Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Emory University: Smearing in the 21st Century

I have picked up a fascinating phenomenon in the blogosphere vis a vis this fiasco with Emory University and Grady Hospital. I want to direct you to three relatively unrelated blogs. First, there is mine, then Peach Pundit, and finally an artsy Atlanta blog by the name of Creative Loafing. These are three totally unrelated blogs except that each of us covered the story of Kevin Kuritzky and his attempt to blow the whistle on the alleged corruption that he saw. Well, if everyone takes a look at the comments section, you will find the exact same comment in each of them. (there maybe other blogs out there with this comment though so far I have only found three)

A judge ruled in Emory’s favor on this one (See mention below from a highly regarded education publication). The Atlanta community needs to stay focused on the larger issues of how to transform Grady so that they can become solvent.

ALLEGED NEGLECT: A lawsuit filed by a former medical student at Emory University who alleged that it neglected patients at its two teaching hospitals was dismissed last month by a Georgia judge who ruled summarily for the university. The former student, Kevin D. Kuritzky, was dismissed from Emory’s medical school 41 days before he was scheduled to graduate, in 2005. He said university officials were angry that he had exposed the neglect of patients and, in retaliation, expelled him. The judge in the case, Robert J. Castellani of the DeKalb County Superior Court, sided with the university, writing, “The allegations brought against the student for dishonesty, and unprofessional and unethical conduct were numerous.”

Chronicle of Higher Education
http://chronicle.com/Section: Money & ManagementVolume 54,
Issue 7, Page A30

So, what is the Chronicle of Higher education and what is going on here? Well, this chronicle is a trade journal for educaters and administrators at schools of higher learning. So, what is going on here? The truth lies in subtle differences in the law that have been twisted to make things seem as though they aren't what they appear. (though I would like to thank Mary Andom the author of the Chronicle piece for graciously providing me with the documents) In fact, there was no dismissal but rather a summary judgement that essentially said that the structure of the case was such that it shouldn't go to the jury.

This seems damning except that there is something that this story doesn't reveal. In fact, last week last week I showed from court documents that Emory willfully and negligently couldn't produce a plethora documents. The court has still not ruled on this spoliation, which is the inability to produce vital documents. The judge never actually ruled on the expoliation when he issued this ruling and the ruling has been appealed.

In layman's terms, what this means is that the plaintiff lost a motion. It is a relatively important motion, however it is also being appealed. It is by no means the last motion, and the disposition of the case is by no means settled. In the larger scheme of things, this case is just getting started, and not finalized as the article tried to imply.

Furthermore, the plaintiff was never contacted before this story ran. In fact, Kevin Kuritzky has told me that he received a message on his cell phone the Sunday before the story was published, he was unavailable, and before he could return it, the story was already published. There's more. Last week, on Redstate, I debate an attorney that linked to this article from the Emory Wheel.

A lawsuit filed against Emory by a former student was dismissed last week, affirming the University’s right to expel a student based on conduct violations.Kevin Kuritzky was expelled from the School of Medicine in April 2005, 41 days before he was set to graduate. In February 2006, he filed a lawsuit against Emory claiming that the school expelled him in retaliation for allegations he made that Grady Memorial Hospital and the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center, both affiliates of the medical school, were violating safety and patient care regulations.

It seems that this bogus information is finding its way into selected areas. These areas just happen to be places where Emory has a lot of influence. Of course, the anonymous nature of the blogosphere makes it quite difficult to track who exactly it is that is cutting and pasting the link to the same bogus story. It could be a blogger who has too much time on their hands and found this story and is determined to let everyone know about it, or it could be something a bit more nefarious.

There is even more. Grady has been all over the news and last week Tim Jefferson, senior VP for legal affairs at Grady, and Kent Alexander, General Counsel for Emory University, published this response to one of the pieces from the Atlanta Journal Constitution

The AJC's Oct. 5 editorial "Come clean on lawsuit" resurrects (and
misstates) old charges of conspiring to misuse government funds, charges the
government reviewed seven years ago and declined to pursue. This has the
devastating effect of casting public suspicion on two entities —- Grady Memorial
Hospital and Emory University —- that are working together in an increasingly
challenging environment to meet the health needs of the most vulnerable members
of our society.

The editorial surprisingly calls on Emory and Grady to open the sealed settlement and court records in a case involving Dr. James Murtagh. For the record, Emory and Grady did not move to seal the record; Murtagh did. Emory had already supported unsealing the proceedings —- the complete, entire record —- as had Grady. We simply awaited the doctor and court's approval.Judge Wendy Shoob has since unsealed the record, which is now of course fully open to the public. The real victim in all of this is Grady, the largest public health hospital in the Southeast. Grady is struggling to survive while misinformation circulates that, unintentionally or intentionally, diverts attention from the real issues.

Now, let's isolate a couple sentences from this response as well as the comment that has found itself onto three unrelated blogs. First, here is the part from Alexander and Jefferson.

The real victim is Grady, the largest public health hospital in the Southeast. Grady is struggling to survive while misinformation circulates that, unintentionally or intentionally, diverts attention from the real issues.

Now, let's look at the comment finding its way throughout the blogosphere...

The Atlanta community needs to stay focused on the larger issues of how to transform Grady so that they can become solvent.

These comments seem awfully similar and more than that it is not the sort of comment some random blogger would add within the comments section. Obviously, it is important that I limit my speculation. I don't know who this blogger is and I have not heard back from the author of the Chronicle piece yet, and certainly all of this could be mere coincidence, and thus, I will leave the speculation, assertion, and conclusions to my audience.


As I have uncovered the many twists and turns that surround the crisis at Grady Hospital I realize that it has so many tentacles that most would get lost. This is likely to happen if this is the first story you have read regarding Grady Hospital. 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:

OregonGuy said...

Your link on Redstate is broken.

I found your site, but I'm smarter than the average bear.