Confidential settlements are bad for patients.
We believe that lawsuits do much more than simply provide monetary compensation. Lawsuits improve the quality of standard of care for patients in the future. Unfortunately, confidential settlements deprive patients of the information they need to make an informed choice about their doctor or hospital.
A Story of Fraud, Deceit and Confidential Settlements
An orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Spyros Panos, was sued by over 100 patients for performing “phantom” surgeries. In more than a hundred lawsuits (and doubtless hundreds of other operations), Dr. Panos claimed to have performed surgeries that were not actually performed.
The patients were scheduled for surgery, the operation began and surgical incisions were made, but nothing else was done by Dr. Panos (hence, the term, “phantom” operation). Over the course of over a many years and hundreds of patients, Dr. Panos committed fraud upon his patients and violated their bodily integrity, trust and consent. Eventually, the patients discovered Dr. Panos’s fraud, brought lawsuits and Dr. Panos was suspended from practicing medicine in New York.
But there’s more to this sad story: Dr. Panos had been performing phantom operations for more than 15 years. As each new claim was brought, Dr. Panos settled the claims based on the condition that they must be confidential, i.e., no one can say a word about what Dr. Panos did. Because the settlements were confidential, none of his patients could discuss anything about Dr. Panos’s fraud.
As a result of the confidential settlements, none of Dr. Panos’s other patients had any information about his long history of fraud. Dr. Panos continued his practice of phantom operations without any consequences for more than 15 years. Dr. Panos’s patients sustained injuries and life-long harm that were perpetrated, at least in part, through confidential settlements.
This is why we will never agree to a confidential settlement.
A Confidential Settlement Can Expose Your Settlement to Income Taxes
Confidentiality can expose your settlement to income taxes that you would not otherwise have to pay. Under the federal tax code, monetary compensation received as a result of bodily harm is not subject to income taxes.
When confidentiality is a condition for settlement, a portion of the settlement amount can be subject to taxation. Hence, a confidential settlement can expose at least a portion of your settlement to income taxes that you would not otherwise have to pay.
You shouldn’t have to pay taxes on your settlement. This is another reason why a confidential settlement is bad, and why we never agree to confidentiality.
Our Position regarding Confidentiality is Non-Negotiable
While monetary compensation is an important goal of a lawsuit, our purpose is not solely to provide monetary compensation for you. As your law firm, our goal is to improve the standard of care for other patients in the future.
Truth is, we would rather go out of business than agree to a confidential settlement. This is a value that we will never compromise and we hope you understand why.
You may disagree with us and if so, that’s okay. In some cases, our clients do not agree with our core values and when that happens, we politely decline to represent them.
If you agree that confidential settlements are bad and you will never agree to confidentiality as part of a settlement, please sign this agreement where indicated and return it to us.
We are grateful for the opportunity to represent you.