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|Preston J. Douglas is a medical malpractice attorney who was a contract partner at the law firm of Fuchsberg & Fuchsberg. From approximately January, 1989 to May, 1991 Mr. Douglas represented me in a medical malpractice lawsuit against the estate of Dr. Sidney A. Hollin regarding the wrongful death of my wife Phyllis. Based upon the manner in which Preston J Douglas mishandled the case I rate his professional services a 0, AVOID AT ALL COSTS.
In 1975 Dr. Sidney A. Hollin at Mt. Sinai Hospital in NYC operated on my wife Phyllis (we were married in 1977) for berry aneurysms. On March 18, 1984 she lapsed into a coma from a massive cerebral hemorrhage. I called Dr. Hollin but he had just died 5 days earlier on March 13. Phyllis eventually passed away on April 5 and the cause of death was determined to be from the rupture of a giant berry aneurysm on her right internal carotid artery. In August, 1985 a lawsuit alleging medical malpractice and wrongful death was filed against the estate of Dr. Hollin by the law firm of Friedman and Eisenstein.
In January, 1989 the case was moved to the law firm of Fuchsberg & Fuchsberg and Preston J Douglas was responsible for its prosecution. The case never made it to trial and was summarily dismissed due to a perceived statute of limitations problem. The entire case hinged upon critical legal arguments that were made by Mr. Douglas. It turns out that during the 2.5 years Preston J Douglas had to prepare the case against Dr. Hollin’s estate he did not read the Mt. Sinai Hospital medical records. At the end of 2007 I discovered a smoking gun document in the form of a hospital consultant’s report that was unknown to exist at the time the case was pending in the courts.
In 1975 before we were married Phyllis was referred to Dr. Sidney A. Hollin and admitted to Mt. Sinai Hospital in NYC for neurological testing. An angiogram of her right internal carotid artery showed 2 berry aneurysms on the artery. In 1975 the only procedure that was used to treat berry aneurysms was to place a surgical clip across the neck of the aneurysm. By clipping the aneurysm in this manner it cuts off the flow of blood to the bubble and cures the patient. Instead of clipping the second smaller aneurysm Dr. Hollin wrapped it with muslin and by doing so he intentionally surgically mistreated it in a way that preserved it and delayed it’s growth on the artery.
Immediately after the operation Dr. Hollin told a hospital consultant who was monitoring his activities that he had clipped both aneurysms. The consultant noted it in his report and this document conclusively proves that Dr. Hollin was aware of and tried to cover up his own medical malpractice that started at Mt. Sinai Hospital and continued for 8.5 years up until his death. Dr. Hollin also concealed the existence of the smaller aneurysm and the fact that he wrapped it from Phyllis as the patient consent form that she and her father signed for the surgery states the procedure that will be performed is clipping of a single aneurysm. No mention is made of a second aneurysm even though it showed up in the pre-operative angiogram.
When a doctor is aware that he has committed medical malpractice he has a fiduciary obligation to inform the patient of the malpractice so that the patient can correct the medical problem and recover economic damages via a timely lawsuit. If the doctor fails to inform the patient of the malpractice and tries to cover it up and the malpractice subsequently causes injury or death to the patient, the doctor can be equitably estopped from using expiration of the statute of limitations as a defense in a lawsuit.
Phyllis had her last appointment with Dr. Hollin 2 years and 10 months prior to her death and 4 months past the 2.5 year statute of limitations for a medical malpractice claim in the State of NY. Since Phyllis died from the rupture of an aneurysm that was both concealed and intentionally surgically mistreated by Dr. Hollin whom was fully aware of his own malpractice, his estate should have been equitably estopped from claiming a 2.5 year statute of limitations. As the consultant’s report was not known to exist at the time the case was pending it was not presented as evidence. By not reading the patient file Preston J Douglas made critical legal arguments without knowing all the documented facts. Because of this the case was summarily dismissed by The Judge and never made it to trial.
Since the primary source of evidence in a medical malpractice lawsuit are the medical records, an attorney who does not read the patient file is clearly incompetent and is not doing his job properly. Mr. Douglas also did not depose a single witness on my behalf even though there were other doctors who filed medical reports and had critical information regarding Dr. Hollin’s activities. Preston J Douglas didn’t even depose Phyllis’ parents who were with her at Mt. Sinai Hospital and her office visits to Dr. Hollin nor did he depose the other 2 surgeons one of whom filed 2 falsified medical records. I asked Mr. Douglas if the statute of limitations could be tolled as that was obviously the only way the case could make it into the courtroom but he told me it could not. He then presented his legal arguments as if the facts supported a case of ordinary negligence.
When a doctor lies to the patient and conceals a lethal ailment like an aneurysm, intentionally surgically mistreats it in a way that causes it to slowly grow and rupture, lies to a hospital consultant and tells him he properly treated the aneurysm, lies to the patient’s other doctors and tells them he operated on a single aneurysm, falsifies medical records to an insurance company claiming he advised a diagnostic test that was never advised, and his associate falsifies his reports in order to cover up what was done to the patient during the operation, then the facts of the matter do not support a claim of ordinary negligence as the acts of the surgeons are intentional. Apparently Preston J Douglas does not know the difference between these two types of activities in relation to how the law treats them.
Phyllis’ patient file has fraud, malice and concealment written all over it yet none of this evidence was presented to the judge by Preston J Douglas because those documents were dated prior to the last 2.5 years. According to Mr. Douglas, if the patient has not seen the doctor in the last 2.5 years or a foreign object was not left in the patient from a previous surgery then you do not have the basis for a successful medical malpractice lawsuit in the State of NY. I found out that is not true when a doctor engages in fraudulent concealment of his own medical malpractice and it is especially not true when the surgeon and his associates are determined to cause the death of the patient over an 8.5 year period. In that case it doesn’t matter how many years later the malpractice is discovered but the evidence demonstrating the fraud and concealment must be presented to The Court.
In a medical malpractice lawsuit every medical record relevant to the patient and the defendant is fully admissible as evidence irregardless of when it was filed. Following is a list of medical records that Preston J Douglas did not present to The Judge:
1) The Mt. Sinai Hospital pre-operative angiogram report that lists 2 aneurysms on the right internal carotid artery.
According to Preston J Douglas’ legal arguments the above evidence is irrelevant but an arthritis prescription for Clinoril that was written by Dr. Papier the family doctor was a critical piece of evidence that he used in his arguments. Mr. Douglas presented exactly 3 documents to the judge: A copy of Dr. Hollin’s original patient journal , a copy of the falsified patient journal that Dr. Hollin sent to IDS Life Insurance Company and a prescription for clinoril from Dr. Papier. Mr. Douglas attempted to create a 2.5 year statute of limitations under the continuous treatment doctrine by citing consultations Dr. Hollin had with the obstetrician and family doctor. Preston J Douglas did not cite any case law in his arguments nor did he depose the obstetrician and family doctor.
A competent attorney looking out for the client’s best interests would have reasoned as follows: Since the client’s wife has not seen the neurosurgeon within the 2.5 year statute of limitations and the attorney cannot find any case law to backup his theory of consultations with other doctors extending the statute of limitations, then pursuing the case in this manner is a waste of time. But since Dr. Hollin lied to the patient and her other doctors and he and his associate Dr. Klein falsified their medical records in order to cover up what was done to the patient, then there is the opportunity to get the case into the courtroom.
Preston J Douglas became fully aware of the following facts:
1) That Dr. Hollin concealed from Phyllis and her family the existence of the smaller aneurysm and the fact that he wrapped it.
It is clear from the medical records as to what Drs. Hollin, Klein and Wancier were up to. Only the surgeons knew that they had wrapped the smaller aneurysm in order to preserve it and delay it’s growth on the artery. Phyllis, her family and her other doctors were told that a single aneurysm had been clipped and that she was cured. Anyone else at Mt. Sinai Hospital that knew about the 2 aneurysms was told they had both been clipped. When Phyllis exhibited symptoms of the growing aneurysm 5.5 years after the operation Dr. Hollin told her they had nothing to do with the surgery and that it was safe for her to become pregnant. Drs. Hollin and Klein falsified any medical records and lied to any personnel they needed to in order to cover up what they were in the process of doing to Phyllis.
When Phyllis finally lapsed into a coma 8.5 years after the surgery I called Dr. Hollin but since he had just died 5 days earlier he could not complete the cover-up. The fact that the surgeons knew about the 2 aneurysms before they even operated indicates that they were pre-meditated and were waiting for the next patient with multiple aneurysms to walk in the door so that they could plant their time bomb on a major artery.
Doctors cannot engage in this type of malicious activity and then hide behind a 2.5 year statute of limitations so it is clear that Mr. Douglas didn’t have a clue as to what the law was in regards to this case. Following is a summary of how Preston J Douglas mishandled the case against Dr. Hollin:
1) He didn’t read the patient file to discover all the critical documents.
In a nutshell, for the 2 years from the time Fuchsberg & Fuchsberg took the case until I gave my deposition, Mr. Douglas’ entire involvement was to file a few legal forms and provide the expert witness with incomplete medical records. These are hardly the qualifications of a ‘Superlawyer’ or a ‘Lawyer With An Edge’. It’s also interesting to note that all this was totally obvious to the client who is not an attorney and had no formal legal training but the only thing that was obvious to the alleged expert in the field was the methodology required to take a case that had every medical record and medical expert necessary to prove it and then flush it down the toilet bowl.
Plaintiff’s attorneys are supposed to argue on behalf of the plaintiff. Preston J Douglas in essence argued on behalf of Dr. Hollin. Mr. Douglas took evidence that on it’s face value alone is totally incriminating to Dr. Hollin and twisted it around in order to make it look like Dr. Hollin’s medical malpractice was unintentional and merely ordinary negligence. Mr. Douglas also seems to be under the impression that just because his expert witness couldn’t conclusively say the smaller aneurysm should have been clipped that it somehow negates all the fraudulent and malicious activities that Drs. Hollin and Klein were engaged in and that are clearly documented in the medical records. For a plaintiff’s attorney to make that assumption is absurd.
When reviewing the legal arguments it is obvious whom the real attorney is and whom the attorney with a bulls-eye target on his back is. Kathleen M. Beck, the attorney that represented the estate of Dr. Hollin, stepped all over Preston J Douglas as if she were crushing grapes wearing high heel shoes. Ms. Beck took the one altered medical record that Mr. Douglas provided as evidence and threw it right back in his face.
Mr. Douglas presented to the judge the falsified office journal that Dr. Hollin submitted to IDS Life Insurance company wherein he wrote that he advised a ct scan at Phyllis’ last appointment. Mr. Douglas also claimed that he didn’t know when Dr. Hollin falsified the document but that it was much later and that Dr. Hollin falsified it because he felt guilty. Since Mr. Douglas presented the falsified journal without any documentation that it came from the insurance company and in a manner that implied it was the only falsified medical report that was filed, all Ms. Beck had to was attack that one document. She successfully did that and confused the issue by arguing that Phyllis didn’t have a ct scan performed even though Dr. Hollin never advised one and his original office journal does not say ‘advise ct scan’. Had Mr. Douglas presented the case as outlined in my article along with the complete medical file and depositions from every doctor that filed a report she would not have been able to do that.
Ms. Beck also stated that Phyllis voluntarily went off her medications when it was Dr. Hollin that told her to discontinue all medications. This point wasn’t even disputed in my affirmation opposing dismissal that was written by Mr. Douglas as it was obvious where this case was headed: into the NYC sewer system. Dr. Hollin also falsified a prescription entry for mysoline as his office journal states that it was prescribed on 8/22/77 when it was actually prescribed in January, 1981. According to Mr. Douglas this is just more irrelevant information that the courts should not be bothered with.
Furthermore it is not plaintiff’s attorney’s position to create a psychological justification for a doctor falsifying a medical record. Doctors falsify medical records for one of two reasons: either they are engaged in insurance fraud or they are covering up something they did to the patient. The notion that a doctor who has been lying to a patient and her other doctors for 8.5 years will falsify a medical record because he suddenly felt guilty is ridiculous. In this case it was obvious to me that the surgeons were covering up the fact that they wrapped an aneurysm that should have been clipped. It appears that Mr. Douglas knows as much about psychology and human nature as he does about medical malpractice law.
Mr. Douglas did state that Dr. Hollin submitted the document to the insurance company on December, 20, 1982 so he apparently was aware of the cover sheet. Mr. Douglas however did not submit the cover sheet along with the altered medical record. Dr. Hollin was in fact paid on December 20, 1982 and he signed the document on December 13, 1982 as evidenced by the dated cover sheet. In any event for Mr. Douglas to claim that he didn’t know when it was falsified when it was obvious that it was falsified specifically for the insurance company on or about December 13, 1982 merely confused the issue. Furthermore ordinary common sense tells you that the document had to have been falsified after the life insurance policy was applied for. The dated application form was also in the records obtained from the insurance company and this was yet another point of reference as to when Dr. Hollin falsified the document.
While Mr. Douglas makes reference to consultations that Dr. Hollin had with Drs. Papier and Bresnick, Mr. Douglas did not submit Dr. Bresnick’s office journal that clearly indicates he was lied to by Dr. Hollin. Instead Mr. Douglas submitted a prescription for Clinoril written by Dr. Papier. Obviously both of these doctors should have been deposed to find out exactly what Dr. Hollin told them but Dr. Bresnick’s notes are quite specific. It’s also obvious why Mr. Douglas used Dr. Papier’s prescription and not Dr. Bresnick’s notes. Mr. Douglas can’t use Dr. Bresnick’s notes since they will disprove Mr Douglas’ claims that Dr. Bresnick was told about aneurysms not needing follow-up. Therefore the only piece of evidence that Mr. Douglas could find related to these consultations with Dr. Hollin that does not conflict with his legal arguments is Dr. Papier’s Clinoril prescription. After all, you can’t question a prescription. A prescription can’t say that Dr. Hollin told him that he resected a single aneurysm.
Clearly this is not how an attorney is supposed to present a case, namely making blatantly false and misleading statements that conflict with the medical records and then fishing around for what little evidence he can find that doesn’t disprove his theory of the case. An attorney would normally use evidence that bolsters his case and proves something relevant about the actions of the defendant in regard to the patient. The problem is there is no evidence to bolster Mr. Douglas’ legal arguments since they are a contrived piece of nonsense from start to finish.
The Judge didn’t bother addressing Dr. Hollin’s falsified office journal in his summary dismissal as he probably couldn’t figure out what Mr. Douglas was even talking about in regards to it. If Mr. Douglas thought he was making new case law based upon his legal arguments then he was sorely misguided. All Mr. Douglas had to do was present the simple and obvious but to do the simple and obvious is apparently too complicated for Preston J. Douglas. Mr. Douglas’ lack of preparation of the case and lack of understanding of basic facts was glaringly obvious to everyone but Mr. Douglas himself.
It is also apparent that Mr. Douglas is either unfamiliar with standard medical terminology or he believes that he can interpret a medical report better than the neurosurgeons. In Mr. Douglas’ hand written consultation notes with the expert witness dated July 10, 1989 he states that the angiography report talks about only 1 aneurysm. (Note: The doctor’s name has been redacted). Both Drs. Hollin and Klein list 2 aneurysms as a pre-operative diagnosis, Dr. Hollin in his operative report and Dr. Klein in his hand written notes. They then confirm the pre-operative diagnosis as the post-operative diagnosis in their reports is marked ‘Same’.
Obviously the radiologist should have been deposed and questioned about his report but Mr. Douglas apparently prefers to guess the meaning of a medical report than to depose the doctor that wrote it in order to find out precisely what it means. Interestingly enough, Dr. Klein’s falsified dictated medical report states that the angiogram showed 1 aneurysm and the second was discovered during the operation. It figures that Mr. Douglas’ assessment of the angiography report would coincide with a falsified medical report that was filed by one of the surgeons. This is typical of Mr. Douglas as all he did throughout this case was give credibility to every fraudulent and malicious act that was perpetrated by these doctors. Ultimately the understanding of each medical record is the responsibility of the attorney so it is clear that Mr. Douglas does not take this responsibility very seriously.
Mr. Douglas also wrote in his notes ‘But not an easy one’. Since this was approximately 7 months after Fuchsberg & Fuchsberg took the case, it is apparent that Mr. Douglas didn’t have even a meager understanding of Phyllis’ medical records and their relationship to the law. I can only assume that Mr. Douglas believes that it is standard procedure for doctors to lie to patients, intentionally surgically mistreat aneurysms, lie to hospital personnel, lie to the patient’s other doctors and falsify medical records galore. As far as I am concerned the case against Dr. Hollin was simple and it would have been to an attorney that had thorough knowledge of the facts and the law.
Ironically the Mt. Sinai Hospital Doctors and Consultant would have constituted all the expert witnesses that Mr. Douglas needed to prove the case. Mr. Douglas’ expert witness was completely unnecessary and contracting him merely wasted $2,000. of my hard earned money. Apparently Mr. Douglas obviously did not have the necessary attorney skills required to realize this however.
In my opinion, the legal arguments that were made in the Dr. Hollin case are not just negligent and incompetent, they are ignorant to the point of gross stupidity. Mr. Douglas claims to have managed the medical malpractice department at Fuchsberg & Fuchsberg and given lectures on the preparation and trial of complex medical malpractice lawsuits. One would think that an attorney who allegedly has these qualifications would be knowledgeable about every aspect of his profession: from understanding medical records to their implication of the law, to knowing case law that surrounds the circumstances of the malpractice and to understanding medical terms. Mr. Douglas is apparently not familiar with any of this information and his claims of expertise in the field are obviously just self-serving nonsense.
Mr. Douglas’ lack of preparation of the case against Dr. Hollin is reflected in his legal arguments. It appears that Mr. Douglas ‘prepared’ the case, if you wish to even call it that, in the following manner:
1) Since Dr. Hollin falsified his office journal within the last 2.5 years by writing in ‘advise ct scan’, Mr. Douglas concluded that Dr. Hollin’s failure to have a ct scan performed constituted the entire malpractice.
I sensed that the case was being flushed down the toilet bowl and I thought that Mr. Douglas’ prescription-from-the-family-doctor legal arguments were ridiculous but it was too far along to obtain the services of another law firm. Mr. Douglas apparently believes that he can properly prosecute a medical malpractice case by not reading the patient file, not deposing any witnesses, not thoroughly understanding the law and not listening to the client. Mr. Douglas is also not a strong advocate for the client as he does not have the passion to see that justice is done on their behalf. His legal arguments in this case are weak, inept, do not address the primary facts of the matter and the few facts he does mention contain errors. I guess one can’t expect perfection from an attorney who doesn’t even read the patient file.
I DO NOT RECOMMEND THE SERVICES OF PRESTON J. DOUGLAS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER. His attitude is totally unprofessional and when your case winds up in the trash can because he did not perform even the minimum required amount of work on it he will drop you as a client like a hot potato. The fact that I discovered the most critical document in the patient file 16 years after the case was dismissed does not bode well for the manner in which Mr. Douglas handles his client’s affairs. Even without that document it was still obvious to me that this could not have been a case of medical malpractice that involved ordinary negligence. Common sense says that Dr. Hollin concealed the existence of the smaller aneurysm and the fact that he wrapped it and that both Drs. Hollin & Klein falsified their medical records in order to cover up what they had done to Phyllis during the operation. Unfortunately the only individual involved with the case that had any common sense at all was the client.
Since Mr. Douglas apparently decided early on that he didn’t think there was a viable case against Dr. Hollin, then he should have conveyed that information to Abe Fuchsberg so Fuchsberg & Fuchsberg would have dropped the case and I might have been able to find a law firm that understood the medical and legal parameters of the case and was willing to expend the appropriate amount of time and financial resources required to properly prosecute it.
Mr. Douglas presented the case to The Judge in a manner that was guaranteed to have it dismissed since he did not cite any case law. I always thought there was a viable lawsuit against Dr. Hollin and his associates and it didn’t seem right to me that doctors could engage in the type of activities described herein and then hide behind a 2.5 year statute of limitations but according to Mr. Douglas they can do so and with impunity. That of course is total nonsense and every piece of medical and legal advice that was rendered by Mr. Douglas turned out to be 100% wrong.
It also seems highly unlikely to me that this is the only case that Mr. Douglas assessed incorrectly. The legal arguments that were made in this case are so disconnected from the facts contained in the medical records, it is unclear if Mr. Douglas is even talking about the Dr. Hollin that operated on Phyllis or if he was working on another case involving a different Dr. Hollin and then somehow confused the 2 cases. Therefore, as far as I am concerned, his legal opinions are not to be trusted.
I can only conclude that Mr. Douglas’ overriding concern is not to seek justice and compensation for the client but rather for him to spend as little time as possible on each case in order to maximize his return on the ones that are successful.
Thanks to Mr. Douglas a horrendous injustice was perpetrated as my son and I never received a penny of restitution for our loss and Dr. Hollin got away with his malicious activities scot free. Do not take the risk of winding up in the same situation.
If you or a loved one believes that you are a victim of medical malpractice, then you want an attorney that is going to fight tooth and nail on your behalf and spare no reasonable amount of time and expense. You also want an attorney who is not afraid to file lawsuits against obviously liable parties and that is familiar with every aspect of his profession, from the law, to understanding the details in the medical records, to how related businesses such as life insurance companies operate. Based upon the manner in which Mr. Douglas handled the case against Dr. Hollin, he obviously is not this type of attorney and HIS SERVICES ARE TO BE AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS.
The case against Dr. Hollin was a landmark medical malpractice case of historic proportions. Since Drs. Hollin, Klein and Wancier fully intended to cause Phyllis’ death using their operation and follow-up therapy, punitive damages would have come into play. Ironically Mr. Douglas shot himself in the foot and missed out on a big pay day for Fuchsberg & Fuchsberg. It is also clear that this case went way beyond the meager capabilities of Preston J. Douglas, Attorney.
You can find out exactly what Dr. Hollin and his associates did to Phyllis at https://drsidneyhollin.com. The background and legal arguments that were filed by Mr. Douglas in the lawsuit against Dr. Hollin are located at https://drsidneyhollin.com/lawsuit.