Flea and the plaintiff’s attorney

Eric Turkewitz calls up the plaintiff’s attorney and gets some answers on legal strategy:

So I called plaintiff’s counsel, Elizabeth Mulvey, of Crowe & Mulvey to find out. She told me she was tipped off to his blog by another attorney. How did the other attorney know? Because Flea had blogged about a subject that Mulvey had spoken on some time back and the other attorney realized that she had the case. Flea had unwittingly given out the identifying information when he discussed her talk. On this cached version of Flea’s site, you can see his comments discussing Mulvey on April 28th.

With that information in hand Mulvey scoured his blog for helpful information, much the way any attorney would review writings produced by a witness for the other side. She found a post where Flea referred to Nelson’s Pediatrics as the bible of pediatrics. (I have the 11th ed. from 1979 on my own bookshelf.) So she asked him on the witness stand if he considered Nelson’s the bible for pediatrics. He said no. Lawyers call that a “prior inconsistent statement” that allows us to confront the witness with the other statement. That meant asking him if he was Flea and confronting him with the blog posting.

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  • scalpel

    The correct answer would have been “Essentially any textbook is like the Bible in the sense that it is widely referenced but subject to various interpretations. It provides a foundation for behavior, but many people use their own judgment and don’t follow it strictly.”

    “-Objection, nonresponsive.”

    “Yes.”

  • DR. MARY JOHNSON

    Interesting. I wondered how questioning Flea about a textbook suddenly jumped to his blog identity.

    I would add to Scalpel’s “non-responsive” answer that because it provides a foundation for professional behavior (and is a textbook emphasized in most training programs), MANY Pediatricians (including me) jokingly (and not-so-jokingly) refer to Nelson’s as “the bible”.

    I keep my very old, weather-beaten copy in the trunk of my car. It goes where I go to use as a first (but not only) reference when I need it.

  • Elliott

    I’m sure Nelson’s has something to say about the particular circumstances of Flea’s case. When he then tried to suggest that in his professional judgement that a particluar pronouncement did not apply, he would look like he was just trying to defend unacceptable practice after the bad outcome. The authority of Nelson’s becomes unquestioned (in the persona of Dr. Flea) so that Dr. Lindemann can’t be believed when he contradicts that authority.

  • Anonymous

    what would the point be to try to get the defendant to say its a “bible”. there is no one book of medicine. if you want to ask if the book is considered factually accurate and a basis for the practice of medicine. ok sure. but to call it a ‘bible’ whats that all about?
    im still waiting to hear what this ‘flea’ did wrong in practice.

  • Matt

    I hope you’re not holding your breath, because odds are that settlement was confidential. You might be able to call the court clerk and get a copy of the file and see if any of the medical records had been introduced to that point, if you were so inclined.

  • Matt

    “Interesting. I wondered how questioning Flea about a textbook suddenly jumped to his blog identity.”

    Because she had to establish that it was indeed the witness on the stand who made the prior inconsistent statement. If he wasn’t Flea, then it wouldn’t be relevant.

  • Anonymous

    Two conclusions from the flea fiasco

    1: If you are a doctor. Never, ever blog

    2: Lawyers are against censorship. That is unless they are the ones doing the censoring (even indirectly).