Thursday, May 25, 2006

Dr. Wins Counterclaim, Sanctions

Accused in a civil case of molesting a patient (and allowing his identical twin to molest her), a local doctor counterclaimed, saying the plaintiff had fabricated the allegations and damaged his repution. Yesterday Judge Katherine Stolz, Pierce County Superior Court, ordered the plaintiff to pay the doctor $2.8 million. Carol M. Ostrom, Woman ordered to pay physician $2.8 million, Seattle Times, May 25, 2006.

The doctor, Dennis Momah, and his twin, Dr. Charles Momah, have been accused medical malpractice, sexual improprieties, and impersonating one another. Dr. Charles Momah is currently in prison after convictions for second- and third-degree rape and indecent liberties, which is is appealing. Stolz dismissed the plaintiff's case because her allegations were contradictory and inconsistent with evidence such as patient sign-in sheets.

"The contradictions and inconsistencies in Ms. Saldivar's testimony were some of the most pronounced this Court has ever seen," Stolz wrote. "This Court finds that Perla Saldivar knowingly and intentionally fabricated her allegations against Dr. Dennis Momah and Dr. Charles Momah."
Judge Stolz also ordered the plaintiff's attorney, Harish Bharti, to pay Dr. Dennis Momah $250,000 and to pay the court $50,000 in sanctions.
Bharti also must "prominently" post the judge's scathing ruling on his Web site for as long as the site contains any reference to the Momahs, and at least for a year.

The judge said Bharti was an "active and knowing participant in the fabrication of Perla Saldivar's ever-changing accusations against Dennis Momah." The judge also said Bharti filed "irrelevant and salacious" allegations just to get media attention and "harass and damage the reputation" of Dennis Momah.

Bharti says he is appealing the sanctions. "Everything worthwhile I did in my life, I caught hell for," he said. "This is the most worthwhile cause I will ever do in my life."
Mr. Bharti represents many plaintiffs who are suing the Momahs. See this page of his website.

Among other thing, Bharti successfully sued McDonald's on behalf of a class of vegetarians, Hindus, Jews, and Sikhs over the company's use of beef flavoring in its fries, winning a $10 million settlement and an apology. The settlement funds are being distributed to a number of charities. Bharti has posted the settlement documents (along with a number of news stories) on his website. The final disbursement was made in July 2005. See article in Hinduism Today.

UPDATE (6/14/06). This case received national coverage: G.M. Filisko, A Public (on the World Wide Web) Scolding: Judge Orders Attorney to Post Scathing Opinion in Losing Case, ABA Journal eReport, June 9, 2006. Quoted in the article are UW law professor Steve Calandrillo and SU's trial ad director, Prof. Marilyn J. Berger.

I have still not found Judge Stolz's order posted on Mr. Bharti's website. Perhaps he is waiting until his appeal is resolved. In the article, he is quoted:
"I believe in the system," Bharti says. "It’s made a big mistake, and it’s going to be corrected. You think the court of appeals will let this order stand for five minutes?"
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