Complaint: Peer review’ of witnesses is intimidation

This is an excerpt from the lawsuit filed by John Fullerton, MD, a San Francisco physician who accuses the Florida Medical Association (FMA) in Tallahassee of intimidating doctors who testify in medical malpractice cases:

• Conspiracy Through Abuse of Economic Power

"Defendant FMA and its agents designed, implemented, and administered a program to review doctors who serve as expert witnesses in an attempt to intimidate, hinder, and deter them from continuing to appear as expert witnesses in meritorious medical malpractice cases.

"As part of its program, Defendant FMA actively encourages the submission of any type of complaint and/or allegation of misconduct regarding doctors who appear as experts in medical malpractice proceedings. [The physician defendants], in response to Defendant FMA’s invitation, published a letter on or about July 11, 2003, which intentionally made false and unprivileged allegations about Plaintiff Fullerton’s conduct while serving as an expert in a medical malpractice case . . ."

The complaint goes on to accuse the defendants of "acting in concert for the common purpose of intentionally and maliciously harassing and intimidating Plaintiff Fullerton so as to prevent him for serving as an expert witness in other meritorious medical malpractice cases." It also charges that the FMA is using its peer review program as a method for "intimidating, harassing, and hindering Plaintiff Fullerton by holding the threat of sanctions over him should he continue to testify as an expert in official court proceedings."