Charleston surgeon wins self-insurance lawsuit
By Sarah K. Winn
A West Virginia Supreme Court ruling issued Tuesday upheld a Charleston surgeonâ€™s right to provide his own medical malpractice insurance.
â€œThe hospital is not always going to win, like they have done in the past,â€? said Karen Miller, sister and attorney of Dr. R.E. Hamrick Jr.
In a 2004 lawsuit, Hamrick alleged that Charleston Area Medical Center pulled his privileges after he obtained $1 million worth of self-funded medical malpractice insurance instead of going through a commercial vendor, according to new accounts and court documents.
CAMC said Hamrickâ€™s fund was not financially sound, did not comply with the hospitalâ€™s Medical Staff Procedures Manual and failed to meet the requirements of the stateâ€™s Medical Professional Liability Act, according to appeal filings.
In September 2004, the Supreme Court granted an injunction restoring Hamrickâ€™s privileges while the case was argued in Kanawha County Circuit Court, according to appeal filings.
In June 2005, Kanawha County Circuit Judge James Stuckey granted summary judgment to Hamrick. CAMC appealed last September.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court upheld Stuckeyâ€™s ruling in a 5-0 vote.
This kind of issue will never come up again, said CAMC attorney Neva Lusk.
Since the lawsuit had been filed, CAMC enacted an internal policy that allows doctors to insure themselves, and a 2006 state law allows doctors to set up their own self-funded trusts to cover medical malpractice lawsuits.
â€œThe bottom line for us [CAMC] is that we get along beautifully with our physicians except for a very rare occasion,â€? Lusk said.