Doctor Convicted of 3 Counts of Manslaugher
By Rachel E. Montes posted in In The News on Monday, June 28, 2010
Jayant Patel (60), an American doctor practicing in Sydney Australia has been convicted of 3 counts of manslaughter and one charge of grievous bodily harm in connection with his treatment of four patients. Patel is accused of botching a several operations while he was the chief surgeon at an Australian hospital. The jury found him guilty on all charges. He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.
While this trial took place in Australia, it shares many common themes with medical malpractice trials in the United States. For example, Dr. Patel denied any wrongdoing, claimed he was innocent on all charges. In addition, Dr. Patel raised the two most common defenses that arise in medical malpractice claims (1) bad result and (2) consent. In medical malpractice, medical providers often assert a defense of “bad result” to claim that just because the procedure has a bad result, the bad result is not evidence of negligence or wrong-doing. Likewise, medical providers often claim that the patient consented to the treatment knowing that it had risks. However, the consent defense does not excuse the doctor from negligently performing the procedures.
In contrast, the prosecutor described Patel as a “bad surgeon motivated by ego” who tried to restore his reputation by carrying out surgery he was not competent to perform. The prosecutor pointed to evidence introduced at trial that Patel had been banned by U.S. authorities from carrying out some of the procedures he undertook when he later moved to Australia, and that he did not inform his new employers about the restrictions. Patel has a long history of questionable practices. The trial came more than 25 years after questions were first raised about Patel’s competency and marks a milestone for many former patients who have waited years to face the man they accuse of irreparably damaging their lives.
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Rachel Montes Participates in Law Day
By Rachel E. Montes posted in In The News on Sunday, June 13, 2010
As part of an educational program to encourage high school students to get involved in our community, and to help educate them on the historical foundation of our country and our legal system, the Dallas Bar Association sponsored Law Day. As part of that program, students from around the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex partiipate in a mock trial competition, and are given mentors and assistance from some of Dallas’ proven trial lawyers. Among those participating in the program was Rachel Montes who explained the “Voir Dire” process, and then gave the students a demonstration of an actual voir dire.
Members of the Dallas Bar then volunteer their time to coach local teams as well as to judge the competitions which culminate in a state wide competition.
18 WHEELER BURNS FRISCO FATHER AND KILLS HIS FAMILY
By Rachel E. Montes posted in 18 wheeler Accidents on Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Wendell Greene of Frisco, Texas is recovering from his personal injuries, including third-degree burns over 50 percent of his body when he was struck by an 18 wheeler on Interstate 20 in Kaufman County over the Memorial Day Holiday. Wendell Greene, his wife, Lakeysha Greene and their daughter, Wesleigh Greene; and son, Kyle Greene (3); were on their way to Louisiana to celebrate Kyle Greene’s birthday with family when a tractor-trailer rear-ended the family’s sport utility vehicle on Interstate 20 in Kaufman County. Mr. Greene’s family were killed at the scene of the crash. Mr. Greene is expected to spend at least two months in the hospital recovering from his burns and trying to deal with the loss of his wife and children. Wendell Greene is hospitalized and is in and out of consciousness. He will not be able to attend any services for his family which are being planned to be held at the Friendship Baptist Church of The Colony, where the Greenes were members. Grief counselors were also assigned to Wesleigh’s kindergarten classmates at Gunstream Elementary School in Frisco.
Friends say Green was smitten with his wife since first meeting her as a graduate student at the University of Arkansas. One of Lakeysha Greene’s longtime friends and sorority sisters, Robin Guinn, remembered her as a person of deep faith, often regarding death as simply another milestone of life, not unlike birthdays, weddings or anniversaries. She always said, ‘God is in control. What can you do about it?” Guinn said.
Police have not released details on the specific cause of the collision. Following any collision with an 18 wheeler, the 18 wheeler driver is required to immediately have a blood test to check for drugs and alcohol. In many cases, even when the driver is not driving under the influence often times the driver is fatigued or has been driving for too many hours. As a result, police will also routinely inspect the driver’s log books and the 18 wheeler to determine if the driver and the vehicle were in compliance with all DOT requirements.
People often ask should I contact an attorney contact attorney. People often believe that the facts are so compelling that the insurance company will treat them fairly and will pay the claim quickly because it is so clear that the company owes the claim. There are many reasons to hire an attorney even in cases like this where it appears that the insurance company is likely to try to settle the case.
1. Very few non-lawyers are familiar with what a fair settlement is for this type of case. As a result, the insurance company may offer what appears to be a substantial settlement offer, when in reality, the case has a much larger value.
2. We also believe that in cases such as this, there is often much more than just money at stake. It is about justice. There is the need to try to change the way companies do business to try to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future. In our practice, we try to obtain not just monetary settlements for our clients, but we also try to get companies to change the way they do business. Seeing that these companies change the way they do business can often help our clients recover in ways that a financial settlement does not accomplish. This change is hard to accomplish without an attorney.
3. Even in serious cases such as this, the investigation the police conduct tends to be much more limited in scope than the investigation that a competent and thorough attorney will do. The reason for this easy to understand when you understand the distinction between the criminal justice system and the civil justice system. The police conduct an investigation to determine if there is a crime that needs to be prosecuted not to help you pursue a civil case. The police focus on looking for evidence of specific crimes. In contrast, in a civil case, the law takes everything into consideration, and so the investigation into the causes of the wreck are much more broad in scope than the police may consider.
A. A classic example of this difference between a criminal case and a civil case involves the use of cell phones by 18 wheeler drivers. Read our blog for more information on this new law. We all know that talking on a cell phone or texting while driving is incredibly distracting to any driver and is an extremely dangerous practice. However, until this year, it was not illegal for truck drivers to drive while texting. As a result, even though it might have cause the driver to be distracted, the police did not usually investigate those issues. However, attorneys would search for evidence and find that the driver was busy talking on a cell phone rather than paying attention to his driving.
B. Because the police can only take certain action or because they have a limited budget to investigate these cases, the police may decide not seize control over the 18 wheeler or they may release the vehicle back to the driver or 18 wheeler company without securing and recording all of the available evidence that may have led to or contributed to the cause of the wreck. In a civil case, attorneys will often take action to either have an expert inspect the truck or to take action to require that evidence be preserved. As a result, lawyers will often subpoena cell phone records and company radio and other electronic transmissions and even computer data that monitors the speed, braking and other systems of the 18 wheeler so that the as much information as possible can be obtained about the cause of the wreck. When this action is not taken, an 18 wheeler company may destroy evidence or lose evidence that would have been critical to show that the company or driver is responsible for causing the wreck.
4. Even the 18 wheeler companies know how important it is to hire an attorney. When accidents like this occur, you can bet that the 18 wheeler company will immediately contact their attorneys and insurance company to protect their interests. The insurance company and the attorneys are trained in ways that are designed to protect the 18 wheeler company and the 18 wheeler driver, not the rights of the victims. They will take action to minimize the claim or possibly even prevent their clients from being held responsible. They will try to secure recorded statements that benefit the 18 wheeler company. If you or your family members are involved in this type of wreck, you need a legal team that will immediately take action to protect your rights.
5. Often times, we see instances where people believe because the insurance company appears to be acting friendly and maybe even paying for some expenses, people think that they will not need to hire an attorney. Eventually, enough time passes, and the victims’ family does not even realize that the company has taken advantage of the situation to destroy critical evidence.
6. Any time you or a loved one is involved in a serious collision whether it is with an 18 wheeler or some other type of serious accident, you should immediately contact an attorney to at least learn what your rights are. Usually, time is of the essence. After all, when it comes to preserving and locating evidence, the longer you wait to take action, the more likely the evidence will be lost or destroyed.
In the meantime, we hope you will join us and his circle of friends and family that are keeping Mr. Greene and his family in their prayers. God bless this family and help to see themthrough this.
Rachel Montes and Tom Herald are the lawyers behind Montes Herald Law Group, LLP. We have offices in Dallas, Irving, and in El Paso. Our principal place of business is in Irving, Texas located at 1121 Kinwest Parkway, Suite 100, Irving, Texas 75063. You can contact us by telephone at (214) 522-9401 via our website at www.MontesHerald.com. Visit our blog at www.MontesHeraldBlog.com and become a fan on Facebook at Montes Herald Law Group, L.L.P.