Health Care Providers: Can a Guilty Plea Expose You to Private Civil Lawsuits?

July 24, 2014 by Robert J. Cochran, Partner | Sherry A. Fabina-Abney, Partner | Bradley L. Williams, Senior Counsel
Health care providers face more scrutiny than ever before. Government investigations contain numerous pitfalls for the unwary. Learn how we can help through our guide, “Provider Beware – The Collateral Consequences of a Guilty Plea.” An excerpt follows: 

In addition to the ever-present threat of malpractice liability, a guilty plea may expose you to other private civil lawsuits. Indiana and Illinois are among 17 states that have enacted versions of the Model Drug Dealer Liability Act. Under the model law, an “illegal drug” is any drug that is illegal to distribute under state law. A person may be sued if he or she knowingly distributed, or knowingly participated in the chain of distribution of, an illegal drug that was actually used by the drug user. Suit may be brought by family members of the drug user, individuals exposed to illegal drugs in utero, an employer of the drug user, and various entities that fund treatment programs or otherwise expend money on behalf of the drug user. Suit may also be maintained by “a person injured as a result of the willful, reckless, or negligent actions of an individual drug user.” Under limited circumstances, even the drug user may sue. Plaintiffs need not prove that the drug caused harm.
 
The statute also prohibits a third party (read: “insurer”) from defending the action or indemnifying for damages. Since the cause of action belongs to the individual damaged, the prosecutor cannot waive or resolve this potential liability as part of a plea agreement.
 

Provider Beware - The Collateral Consequences of a Guilty Plea



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