• Lord of the Fleas: Doctor's Blog Aids Malpractice Claim
  • June 27, 2007 | Author: Gregory Russell Piché
  • Law Firm: Holland & Hart LLP - Denver Office
  • In one of the most curious and self destructing “dares” since Sen. Gary Hart invited the press to follow him, if reporters believed he was “fooling around”, a Massachusetts Pediatrician, Robert P. Lindeman, M.D., who was also a defendant in a medical malpractice case in Suffolk District Court in Boston, blogging anonymously under the nom de guerre, “Flea,” regaled his audience with daily reports of events in his suit, including his meetings with his attorneys, his trial preparation, his deposition, his views of the jury and his opposing counsel, Elizabeth N. Mulvey. Although his blog was anonymous, he went so far to challenge her in his blog, to read about him as he had developed on-line information about her.

    If the plaintiff’s lawyer in Flea’s upcoming trial is any good at all, she’s already Googled Flea.  Goodness knows Flea’s Googled her.

    During the course of the trial, Flea’s posts were avidly followed by Eric Turkewitz, a personal injury lawyer  in New York, who publishes his own blog, New York Personal Injury Blog.  Mr. Turkewitz expressed concern that Dr.. Lindeman would be deemed to have waived his attorney-client privilege if his posts were dismissed and second, that his insurance company might disclaim coverage because of his conduct.  Mr. Turbewitz listed the following posts by Flea:

    • Dress Rehearsal (2 hour conversation with his attorney)
    • A Witness for the Prosecution (Plaintiff’s expert)
    • What Malpractice Juries Care About (per his attorney)
    • Flea Takes a Screen Test (mock trial)
    • Flea Gets His Syllabus (readings for preparation)
    • Another Day at the Office (being deposed)
    • God Was Watching Out for you today (being deposed)
    • Something About the Law (the Complaint)
    • Negligent, Careless and Unskillful (the Complaint)

    Lindeman’s posts on various subjects, medical and otherwise, were frequently “decorated” with revealing pictures of comely young women.  In the blog, Dr. Lindeman nick named Ms. Mulvey, Clarissa Lunt, a thinly described vulgar reference to female genitalia.  He stated that members of the jury in his trial were “dozing.”  In an article by Jonathan Galtzman in the Boston Globe on May 31, 2007, Ms. Mulvey learned of the blogs several weeks before trial.  She indicates that her reading of the blogs was “controversial but intellectually stimulating.”

    We can only imagine!  Mr. Turkewitz’s readers were having a field day posting comments about what might happen if Dr. Lindeman were to be outed.  Several opined that if Ms. Mulvey discovered it and she chose to use it at trial, it might well backfire on her.  She in fact handled the information with grace and to great effect.  On cross examination of Dr. Lindeman, she simply asked him whether or not he was “Flea.”  A stunned and shattered Flea acknowledged his identity as “Flea” before the uncomprehending jury.  It hung in the air much like the prototypical gnat itself, buzzing in the courtroom.  The next day the case settled for what is reputed to be a substantial sum and Flea deactivated his manic blog in a puff of legal flea powder.

    It is difficult to comprehend the degree of narcissism and conceit that would inspire such a risky adventure.  Like Richard Nixon, Dr. Lindeman referred to his “Flea” persona in the third person when recounting his actions and perceptions.  Perhaps it is related to the same malady that encouraged an intelligent and accomplished physician last year to take off in a blinding snow storm in his private plane in Montana for a golfing trip in Arizona.  Even the fleas were walking that day, when his plane hit a mountain.