Dr. Weiner wouldn’t comment on Meredith specifically, but says more generally that with the aid of Dr. Hayne, Mississippi’s county coroners and plaintiff’s attorneys are defrauding doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies out of millions of dollars (Hayne was recently sued by one hospital insurer, though I haven’t been able to determine how that case was resolved).
“In Mississippi, the cause of death is open to the highest bidder,” Weiner told me.
Hayne charges three times as much for private autopsies as he does for state autopsies; he also charges about three times his normally hourly rate for trial testimony and preparation.
This brings us to another problem: Public defenders in Mississippi are notoriously underpaid. For all but a few, it’s a part-time position. Cities and counties typically pay less than $10,000 per year to their designated public defender. Consequently, most of the state’s public defenders make their actual living in private practice, many as plaintiff’s attorneys. When they need an autopsy done in a medical malpractice or wrongful death case, Hayne’s often the only game in town.