Documentary “Do No Harm” and the Scruggs effect

And then, just like in a John Grisham novel, things get legal, ugly and scary. Rehberg walks out to the parking lot after work one night, and a vehicle pulls up and blocks his car. Two men jump out, identify themselves as FBI agents, call out his name and say that they have been investigating him. The men–who in reality were no longer with the FBI–say they work for Putney and ask him to get in their car and go to a meeting. If he cooperates, they promise the hospital won’t file a lawsuit against him.

Wisely, Rehberg doesn’t get in the car. As they leave, he’s warned, “If you’re not smart enough to do this for yourself, you should for your wife Wanda and your lovely family.” A bodyguard is hired to watch over Rehberg’s family.

Bagnato receives suspicious e-mails and phone calls from someone who hangs up every time he and his wife pick up, and the lock in his front door falls out.

The scare tactics and intimidation don’t work, and Bagnato and Rehberg hire Dickie Scruggs, the famous lawyer, who filed a class-action lawsuit against the tobacco companies and won one of the largest settlements ever.

Putney Hospital lawyers go on the offensive and file a lawsuit for $66 million against Rehberg. Next, the two men are indicted on trumped-up, ludicrous criminal charges of burglary, assault and harassing phone calls. Eventually, the charges are dismissed.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) gets involved and holds hearings in Washington, D.C., on the issue of non-profit hospitals charging the uninsured more money for services than the insured, and not providing adequate amounts of free care in exchange for generous tax breaks. This puts public pressure on Putney to back down, but Grassley stops short of proposing legislation to punish hospitals for these shameful business practices.

Socialist Worker
6/17/9