If money talks, then taking it off the table is the key to preserving integrity
If you’ve ever worked with Steve Gursten of Michigan Auto Law, you know he’s a standup person and an excellent attorney. You know that he’s a man of integrity, as are the people that work for his firm. You know that he’s overseen hundreds of cases, most of which have afforded accident victims the opportunity to receive fair compensation under difficult circumstances. Most importantly, you know that Steve is honest.
That’s why it’s hard to see him in a situation as crazy as this. You can read all about it here, but I’ll provide the short version: While representing a client, Steve openly questioned the contradictory testimony of a doctor who conducted an Independent Medical Examination during the discovery process. For those who don’t know, an IME is a controversial tactic shrouded with clandestine intentions. The purpose, effectively, is to discredit a plaintiff’s testimony. An expert examiner like a doctor or a specialist is called in—rather, hired—to find out just how bad an injury or a claim may be.
No chance for objectivity
The problem here is almost too obvious and maddening for plaintiff’s attorneys and their clients to ignore. It boils down to this: An insurance company hires (therefore pays) an expert with a clear and vested interest from the get go, compensated to examine, write reports, and testify in personal injury and workers comp cases. Is it any surprise that the examination, the reports, or the testimony often skews in favor of the insurance company? Not if money talks.
Steve’s case is a clear example of how wrong this system is, and how much needs to be done to change it. After Steve and his team seemingly caught a particular IME doctor committing perjury during a cross-examination, the doctor essentially decided to go after Steve personally, filing a grievance to suppress a recent blog post and to punish him for disclosing the record. As coincidence would have it, she also sits on the Michigan Attorney Disciplinary Board, the agency that disciplines attorneys in the state of Michigan. It’s an equally shady distinction as is the attempt to frame Steve’s client as a person of sound body and mind.
If we are to truly take these IME’s at face value, then taking money off the table is the key. That’s not going to happen while insurance companies are footing the bill. Steve has decided to risk his reputation and his license by making this information public, not as a method for public humiliation, but to emphasize the element of corruption involved in similar scenarios.
I suggest attorneys and others take a good look at this case and judge for themselves. It would have been easy to simply let this fall by the wayside. Steve will be the first person to tell you that too much is on the line, including the wellbeing of those who have a hard time competing with the limitless resources of a big insurance company. The stakes could not be any higher.