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Sunday, July 24, 2011

medical malpractice - Pt. 3. Didn't I see you with a lawyer?

Living daily with severe unremitting pain makes it difficult to see past the pain. Much of the time it is a minute to minute existence; can I do what I have to do merely to get through the day? Had I been able to see past the next 60 seconds to the long term maybe I would have moved faster against Kate.

She remained my attorney. I should have fired her as soon as I learned the other case had been thrown out of court and there was nothing she could do about it. A lot of life comes down to you don't know what you don't know, and because you don't know you don't know what to ask.

I had no idea Kate should have been reading the legal paper everyday. As a result there was no way for me to know it was completely her fault that the first case was gone. She made it sound as though she was blameless: it was not her fault, it just happened.

She promised she would be on top of the Jannetta case.

My aloneness needed to believe when someone said "You can trust me. I will be here for you" even when they had already proved untrustworthy. I prefer to think it was the haze of the pain and meds that made it harder for me to see clearly than just abject need and the lack of anyone to advise me.

My father was dying of A.L.S. He was in a wheelchair and losing ground. Nevertheless I had to be continuously on Kate to schedule his deposition.
Time was getting away from us. She continued to dawdle. Finally I told her if it did not happen soon he may well not be able to ever do it. Only then did she schedule it.

Absent prodding from me Kate moved at a snail's pace, when she moved at all. The phone calls were always the same; "I'm on it, Carol. Trust me. I am getting things done." My father received bills for phone calls, copying, letters she sent out and yet we still did not have an expert witness, I had not been deposed and she had yet to send out interrogatories or schedule depositions.

The other side took care of some of this, deposing my neuroophtahlmologist and requesting record upon record.

When I was finally deposed it was the request of opposing counsel. Kate was rarely the moving party. Did I know what neurosurgeons we should ask to be our expert? I would do some research or call around and give her names. She sent out the letters. They said "No." "I can't testify against Peter Jannetta. He is too big a name." or "He is my friend. I am sure there are other neurosurgeons you can find."

I wrote to Kate and called her. "What are you going to do? When are you going to do it? How come you haven't done (depositions, interrogatories, finding expert witnesses)? The answer was always the same. "I am getting to it."

I had offered to help do some of the research when we first met. Because of the pain I did not mean that I would be her assistant or paralegal but that is what I became, for both suits. It was too much for me to do, it was too much for the pain to do, and it was not why I had an attorney. She was supposed to tell me the theories of the case and what we needed, not vice-versa. Finally I had had enough.

I wrote her and her partners in the firm. "She is not doing the work and I am concerned this case will go down the tubes like the one against Dr. Martinez. Please help." Her partners did not reply. Kate did.

She sent me a letter stating she was petitioning the court to be removed from the case. This was a offensive move (on many levels). She did not want it to look like she was being fired.

Usually a client will find a new attorney before the old lawyer decides to leave a case. If it is done through the court the judge will try to make sure substitute counsel has been retained. The Pittsburgh court did not do so. It would be my first lesson in how that court did not always follow the rules.

I was now counsel-less. Either I let the case be tossed like Kate had the other one or I represented myself. There was no option.

I have A B.A. in psychology. I had never taken a legal class or watched a lawyer in action (other than on a TV drama).

I am not a lawyer. I would just be playing one in court.

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