Clay Robison provides a great example of why 2003's tort "reform" amendment continues to stand as one of the biggest con jobs ever perpetratred on the state.
Retired orthopedic surgeon Forney Fleming was just what the doctor ordered, or so Texans for Lawsuit Reform thought.
He was eager to bash plaintiffs' lawyers, particularly those who targeted doctors. So TLR, a business group that has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars bashing plaintiffs' lawyers and winning restrictions on judgments against physicians and other defendants, signed him up as a volunteer speaker.
Until a few days ago, TLR also featured Fleming's "supporter profile" on its Web site, where he was quoted:
"I was practicing in a 'judicial hellhole' and saw the effect of lawsuit abuse, which was decreasing the accessibility of medical care in Jefferson County."
Fleming, however, left out some details of his professional life, including his reprimand and $7,500 fine by the Texas Medical Board in 2004 for misdiagnosing what turned out to be bone cancer in a 16-year-old girl's leg. The leg later was amputated.
The board also accused Fleming of providing substandard care to six other patients, including an 81-year-old woman with a fractured hip. That formal complaint was still pending when he let his medical license lapse and retired last December.
And, according to state records, Fleming was sued or threatened with suits for malpractice three times. All were settled out of court or resolved through mediation for undisclosed terms.
None of his professional problems was mentioned on the TLR Web site, but his profile was removed last week, within an hour after I informed a TLR spokeswoman about them.
"TLR's support has always come from industries and individuals that don't want to be held accountable for bringing physical and fiscal harm to Texas families," said Alex Winslow, executive director of Texas Watch, a consumer advocacy group.