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I joined the Board & we all got sued.

Home Asset Protection I joined the Board & we all got sued.

  • PhysicianOnFIRE PhysicianOnFIRE 
    Moderator
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 1439
    Joined: 01/08/2016

    I don’t normally start a new thread to share a post, but this is an important cautionary tale that applies to anyone asked to serve on a non-profit Board, which many of us have been.

    In summary, I served in a limited, non-voting capacity on our hospital’s Board. Two years after the hospital went bankrupt, the Trustee went after all the docs, executives, and community members who had served on the board, and we were sued for tens of millions.

    The lawsuit drags on, but I was finally dismissed after three and a half years, and a five-figure tally in legal fees.

    Lessons learned:

    • No good deed goes unpunished
    • Review the D&O insurance policy before you join a board
    • Take asset protection seriously
    • Don’t be afraid to say No to leadership “opportunities.”

    The full story:

    I Volunteered for the Hospital Board and was Sued for Millions.

     

    40-something anesthesiologist and personal finance blogger @ https://physicianonfire.com [Part of the WCI Network] Find me on Twitter: @physicianonfire

    FIRE. Financial Independence. Retire Early.

    q-school q-school 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 2000
    Joined: 05/07/2017

    no good deed goes unpunished.  i think those that are generous minded and inclined to servant leadership have a hard time imagining all the ways you can get boned when you do something for someone else.  🙂

    i’m not sure if i’ve digested that message because i still try to live my life helping others generously.

    #100504 Reply
    Vagabond MD Vagabond MD 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 2741
    Joined: 01/21/2016

    Yes, a harrowing and cautionary tale. As I added in the comments section, the risk of unpaid administrative duties leading to lawsuits is low, but the risk of these responsibilities contributing to burnout is quite high. As Nancy Reagan said back in her day, “Just Say No!”

    "Wealth is the slave of the wise man and the master of the fool.” -Seneca the Younger

    #100505 Reply
     G-pathy 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 100
    Joined: 01/10/2016

    Yikes.

    #100521 Reply
     hightower 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 1208
    Joined: 12/07/2016

    Absolutely awful!

    So, you had to pay cash for all the legal fees over the last several years?  Over $100k?  That would KILL me!  Not only financially, but also emotionally.  Knowing that I’m working my a** off at the hospital just to see my paychecks being signed over to lawyers defending me against a BS lawsuit.  God, I can’t imagine a worse hell.  I’d be ready to retire immediately too.  What a shame that our society operates this way.  Greed is the worst human behavior IMO.

    I agree with one of the commentators on your site that said we should have a law that says if you sue and lose, you pay the defendants legal fees.  That would sure discourage a lot of frivolous BS.

    #100536 Reply
    PhysicianOnFIRE PhysicianOnFIRE 
    Moderator
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 1439
    Joined: 01/08/2016
    I agree with one of the commentators on your site that said we should have a law that says if you sue and lose, you pay the defendants legal fees.  That would sure discourage a lot of frivolous BS.

    Click to expand…

    It was 5 figures, not 6, but I regularly received invoices from my attorney for hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars as the lawsuit dragged on.

    I did ask my attorney early on if what you suggested would be an option, a countersuit of sorts. But I guess it doesn’t work that way.

    40-something anesthesiologist and personal finance blogger @ https://physicianonfire.com [Part of the WCI Network] Find me on Twitter: @physicianonfire

    FIRE. Financial Independence. Retire Early.

    #100557 Reply
     Asher 
    Participant
    Status: Attorney
    Posts: 21
    Joined: 10/28/2017
    Splash Refinancing Bonus

    A generation ago, the FDIC went after people who served as directors on the boards of their local banks.  I know of at least one attorney’s asset protection practice which arose from those events.  The best asset protection, of course, is preemptive, not defensive.  Asset protection is much more difficult and far less reliable after the lawsuit arises.

    Asher Rubinstein
    http://www.assetlawyer.com

    #100563 Reply
    Craigy Craigy 
    Participant
    Status: Spouse
    Posts: 1658
    Joined: 09/16/2016

    MAYBE YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE BANKRUPTED THE HOSPITAL BRUH.   😉

    LEVEL 1 WCI FORUM MEMBER.

    #100590 Reply
    Vagabond MD Vagabond MD 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 2741
    Joined: 01/21/2016

    There were a lot of lawyer-bashing comments on the original blog post, and I wanted to set one point straight. The reason there was a Trustee for the bankruptcy is that there were numerous parties that were stiffed by the Hospital. As such, it is the role of the Trustee to seek compensation for those parties.

    The way that Trustee can have access to all of the documents and personnel, and have a means to recover for these creditors,  is to file a suit and subpoena those potentially responsible. The aggrieved parties have no way of knowing whether the money was lost due to poor business conditions, incompetence and mismanagement or scoundrels who embezzled and stole from the Hospital. This was not a personal attack on our dear PoF, though it undoubtedly felt like it at times, no doubt, but the legal system working to attempt to make the parties that really lost money whole. As they might say in The Godfather, “it’s not personal, it’s business.”

    Disclosure: Married to a lawyer

     

     

    "Wealth is the slave of the wise man and the master of the fool.” -Seneca the Younger

    #100703 Reply
    PhysicianOnFIRE PhysicianOnFIRE 
    Moderator
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 1439
    Joined: 01/08/2016

    There were a lot of lawyer-bashing comments on the original blog post, and I wanted to set one point straight. The reason there was a Trustee for the bankruptcy is that there were numerous parties that were stiffed by the Hospital. As such, it is the role of the Trustee to seek compensation for those parties.

    The way that Trustee can have access to all of the documents and personnel, and have a means to recover for these creditors,  is to file a suit and subpoena those potentially responsible. The aggrieved parties have no way of knowing whether the money was lost due to poor business conditions, incompetence and mismanagement or scoundrels who embezzled and stole from the Hospital. This was not a personal attack on our dear PoF, though it undoubtedly felt like it at times, no doubt, but the legal system working to attempt to make the parties that really lost money whole. As they might say in The Godfather, “it’s not personal, it’s business.”

    Disclosure: Married to a lawyer

     

     

    Click to expand…

    Are you sure the author of this reply isn’t married to an interventional radiologist?

    I understand the role of the Trustee. In this case, the Trustee had Board minutes, e-mails, among other information when they filed the lawsuit. Any reasonable person could read through the thick stack of papers and determine that my name only appeared as being present at a maybe a dozen meetings over a ten month period. The guy that I replaced, who was on the Board in the same role but for a longer length of time, wasn’t even named.

    I’m quite confident the only reason I was kept in the lawsuit (and named in the first place) is the MD behind my name. When given an opportunity to dismiss me as they had done for other community members with similarly limited roles, the Trustee’s lawyers refused.

    If I earned my living the way the plaintiff’s lawyers do, by bringing years of misery to people with good intentions that are guilty of nothing but naïveté, I don’t know how I would sleep at night (other than on a pile of money). I’m grateful to have earned money by improving the lives of the people I reach.

    To the lawyer, it might be business. But to the people he or she puts through the wringer, it’s very personal. I wonder what it’s like to be numb to that.

     

    40-something anesthesiologist and personal finance blogger @ https://physicianonfire.com [Part of the WCI Network] Find me on Twitter: @physicianonfire

    FIRE. Financial Independence. Retire Early.

    #100918 Reply
    ReFinDoc ReFinDoc 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 113
    Joined: 01/09/2016

    How would  “asset protection” have changed the outcome in this case?

    #100923 Reply
    MPMD MPMD 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 1553
    Joined: 05/01/2017
    I agree with one of the commentators on your site that said we should have a law that says if you sue and lose, you pay the defendants legal fees.  That would sure discourage a lot of frivolous BS. 

    Click to expand…

    It was 5 figures, not 6, but I regularly received invoices from my attorney for hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars as the lawsuit dragged on.

    I did ask my attorney early on if what you suggested would be an option, a countersuit of sorts. But I guess it doesn’t work that way.

    Click to expand…

    My dad explored counter-suing a med-mal plaintiff’s attorney back in the 90s. Never got anywhere. I think in the legal world suing another lawyer for legal malpractice is the equivalent of burning a bridge with a napalm MOAB. I also suspect the standards for legal malpractice are absurdly high and that the line between malpractice and aggressive advocacy for a client is so blurry as to look like it was struck with the aforementioned firebomb.

    #100935 Reply
     Bmac 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 212
    Joined: 10/21/2017
    early retirement for doctors

    There were a lot of lawyer-bashing comments on the original blog post, and I wanted to set one point straight. The reason there was a Trustee for the bankruptcy is that there were numerous parties that were stiffed by the Hospital. As such, it is the role of the Trustee to seek compensation for those parties.

    The way that Trustee can have access to all of the documents and personnel, and have a means to recover for these creditors,  is to file a suit and subpoena those potentially responsible. The aggrieved parties have no way of knowing whether the money was lost due to poor business conditions, incompetence and mismanagement or scoundrels who embezzled and stole from the Hospital. This was not a personal attack on our dear PoF, though it undoubtedly felt like it at times, no doubt, but the legal system working to attempt to make the parties that really lost money whole. As they might say in The Godfather, “it’s not personal, it’s business.”

    Disclosure: Married to a lawyer

     

     

    Click to expand…

    Are you sure the author of this reply isn’t married to an interventional radiologist?

    I understand the role of the Trustee. In this case, the Trustee had Board minutes, e-mails, among other information when they filed the lawsuit. Any reasonable person could read through the thick stack of papers and determine that my name only appeared as being present at a maybe a dozen meetings over a ten month period. The guy that I replaced, who was on the Board in the same role but for a longer length of time, wasn’t even named.

    I’m quite confident the only reason I was kept in the lawsuit (and named in the first place) is the MD behind my name. When given an opportunity to dismiss me as they had done for other community members with similarly limited roles, the Trustee’s lawyers refused.

    If I earned my living the way the plaintiff’s lawyers do, by bringing years of misery to people with good intentions that are guilty of nothing but naïveté, I don’t know how I would sleep at night (other than on a pile of money). I’m grateful to have earned money by improving the lives of the people I reach.

    To the lawyer, it might be business. But to the people he or she puts through the wringer, it’s very personal. I wonder what it’s like to be numb to that.

     

    Click to expand…

    Hmm. POF and Vagabond MD not besties anymore (I kid).

    But I agree that it’s one thing for the lawyers to go after the business entities but entirely another to go after the individual, particularly in the scenario described here. The former may be “business,” but the latter surely goes well beyond business and is highly personal.

    #100936 Reply
    Vagabond MD Vagabond MD 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 2741
    Joined: 01/21/2016

    There were a lot of lawyer-bashing comments on the original blog post, and I wanted to set one point straight. The reason there was a Trustee for the bankruptcy is that there were numerous parties that were stiffed by the Hospital. As such, it is the role of the Trustee to seek compensation for those parties.

    The way that Trustee can have access to all of the documents and personnel, and have a means to recover for these creditors,  is to file a suit and subpoena those potentially responsible. The aggrieved parties have no way of knowing whether the money was lost due to poor business conditions, incompetence and mismanagement or scoundrels who embezzled and stole from the Hospital. This was not a personal attack on our dear PoF, though it undoubtedly felt like it at times, no doubt, but the legal system working to attempt to make the parties that really lost money whole. As they might say in The Godfather, “it’s not personal, it’s business.”

    Disclosure: Married to a lawyer

     

     

    Click to expand…

    Are you sure the author of this reply isn’t married to an interventional radiologist?

    I understand the role of the Trustee. In this case, the Trustee had Board minutes, e-mails, among other information when they filed the lawsuit. Any reasonable person could read through the thick stack of papers and determine that my name only appeared as being present at a maybe a dozen meetings over a ten month period. The guy that I replaced, who was on the Board in the same role but for a longer length of time, wasn’t even named.

    I’m quite confident the only reason I was kept in the lawsuit (and named in the first place) is the MD behind my name. When given an opportunity to dismiss me as they had done for other community members with similarly limited roles, the Trustee’s lawyers refused.

    If I earned my living the way the plaintiff’s lawyers do, by bringing years of misery to people with good intentions that are guilty of nothing but naïveté, I don’t know how I would sleep at night (other than on a pile of money). I’m grateful to have earned money by improving the lives of the people I reach.

    To the lawyer, it might be business. But to the people he or she puts through the wringer, it’s very personal. I wonder what it’s like to be numb to that.

     

    Click to expand…

    Hmm. POF and Vagabond MD not besties anymore (I kid).

    But I agree that it’s one thing for the lawyers to go after the business entities but entirely another to go after the individual, particularly in the scenario described here. The former may be “business,” but the latter surely goes well beyond business and is highly personal.

    Click to expand…

    No, I hope the Vagabond-PoF bromance will continue. 😉 I am completely on PoF’s side on this issue. It’s BS, it’s degrading, it’s stressful, it’s unnecessary, and it’s our system. But to the other side, it’s not personal. There is no compassion or emotion.

    My wife works company/defense side, so this is not her bailiwick. I do have a good friend who is a very successful plaintiff’s attorney, including med mal, and I have learned a lot about the mindset and the process from him. If he were defending his role as a plaintiff attorney, he would say that he “does good” for the people whom he represents who have been harmed by negligent action by another party. Knowing how and where he lives, I suspect that he sleeps very well at night, believing that he does his best for the clients that he represents and occasionally winning a big case which makes the world a little bit safer (and him a large pile of money, thankyouverymuch).

    I obviously do not know all the details or the mindset of the Trustee, but once the ball gets rolling, there is often little incentive or urgency for the plaintiff side to let someone off if there is any shred of suspicion that there is a case against him/her. In PoF’s case, as opposed to the community volunteers, money (from clinical services) was flowing in his direction, and perhaps that is why the Trustee kept him around longer than the others. We will likely never know.

     

    "Wealth is the slave of the wise man and the master of the fool.” -Seneca the Younger

    #100958 Reply
    hatton1 hatton1 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 2650
    Joined: 01/11/2016

    I was amazed when I went to trial how little it is about the actual facts.  It is simply how they are presented.

    #100991 Reply
    Liked by q-school

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