Jeff Segal, MD, JD, FACS
It’s an easy call. Dr. Mark Weinberger is a rotten apple. More than 300 medical malpractice cases have been filed against him. Most haven’t even gotten started. In the first case to pop through, the estate of Phyllis Barnes vs. Weinberger, the jury delivered a $13 million verdict for the plaintiff.
Maybe Dr. Weinberger doesn’t care. He’s in prison. And his professional liability carrier is working overtime to distance themselves from having to provide legal defense.
A little background.
Dr. Weinberger was a busy sinus surgeon in suburban Chicago. And I mean busy. Patients alleged he ran a mill – which missed valid diagnoses and performed unnecessary surgery. He lived a lifestyle with private jets and all the accoutrements of the rich and famous.
Weinberger disappeared in 2004 while vacationing with his wife in Greece. She woke up one morning and found him missing. His wife, initially unwilling to believe that her husband had deliberately stranded her in Greece with a $40,000 bill for marina fees and no means of paying it, appealed to friends for help in getting home.
She waited a few days before she began to fear that he might not be coming back. When she returned to the States, she discovered a book he purchased – called How to be Invisible. Not a good sign.
Her next surprise: an endless procession of bills ($6 million) and no new cash. She was headed toward bankruptcy.
Weinberger was found by Italian police in 2009 – hiding in a tent in the mountains. While missing, federal prosecutors had indicted him on multiple counts of healthcare fraud. He pleaded guilty to 22 counts of health care fraud in exchange for four years in prison. Now it’s up to a federal judge to accept the deal.
Details of this drama were highlighted in Vanity Fair.