By Jeffrey J. Downey, Esq, practicing in Virginia, D.C. and Maryland
It should come as no surprise that insurance companies often deny legitimate claims after having them reviewed by doctors who sometimes have cozy financial relationships with the insurance companies that seek their opinions.
In Lombard v. Rohrbaugh, the Supreme Court of Virginia held that a Plaintiff could disclose the financial relationship between an expert witness and the defending insurance company. 262 Va. 484 (2001). This information is relevant to bias, even if the Jury is informed of the existence of insurance, which is usually inadmissible. Obviously, before such a relationship can be disclosed, the underlying information must be obtained so that the parties and the Court can consider the evidence.
Along those lines Virginia Circuit Courts have compelled the production of financial information for retained defense experts. See Bowen-Brown v. Veolia Transportation Services, Inc, Law CL 2011-14991 (Fairfax Cir. Ct. 2012) (Compelling production of an accurate statement of income from consultations, record reviews and testimony, whether paid to him as an individual or entity). The Circuit Court has also compelled case lists for experts, consistent with F. R. Civ. P. 26(a)(2)(B)(v). Rosas v. Cusmano and State Farm, CL 2008-10613 (Fairfax Cir. Ct. 2010) Requiring the physician to produce all his notes, raw data and list of cases under F.R.Civ. 26(a)(2)(B)(v))
I am attaching a Motion I recently filed to get this information from State Farm in a case in which their reviewing physician, Kenneth Ward, MD, undertook a review without even examining the patient. The Motion includes the orders in the above Fairfax Circuit Court cases. State Farm’s defense counsel agreed to an order after the Motion was filed, which is also attached.
Attorneys handling personal injury claims in Virginia should issue requests for this financial information in every case and also consider issuing third party subpoenas directly to the insurance company or doctor. Samples of this discovery is also attached. In Maryland and the District of Columbia, insurance companies can be joined as parties in Uninsured Motorist Claims, whereas in Virginia the suit must always be filed against the negligent driver, or John Doe, where that driver is unidentified. See Va. Code 38.2-2206.
For additional information about Dr. Kenneth Ward, contact this office and we will supply you his financial information showing his strong connection to state farm. Dr. Ward has been working with State Farm since at least 2017. In 2019, he undertook reviews for State Farm in January, February and April. In May he received a large payment for an upcoming trial scheduled for June 17, 2019.
If any attorneys have additional information on Dr. Ward, please contact this office so we can update our data base.
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