Judge won’t compel health system to fund doctor’s defense
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A federal judge declined for now to compel a Michigan-based health system to advance legal costs for a doctor’s defense against murder charges in the deaths of 25 Ohio hospital patients.
U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh in Michigan concluded Wednesday it’s in the public interest to deny the preliminary injunction sought by William Husel.
The Columbus-area Mount Carmel Health System fired the intensive care doctor after concluding he ordered excessive painkillers for dozens of patients who died. Husel has pleaded not guilty in the resulting criminal case.
His pending lawsuit against Mount Carmel’s parent company, Trinity Health Corporation, and its insurer argues his ability to defend himself is hurt if they won’t cover his legal costs in the criminal case as happened in dozens of related civil cases.
The judge concluded the public interest supported denying the preliminary injunction “to protect THC’s Catholic principles on end of life issues, to comport with public policy that liability insurance does not exist to relieve wrongdoers for intentional criminal conduct, and to fulfill the court’s obligation to read the insurance contract by its plain and unambiguous terms.”
A spokeswoman for Mount Carmel said by email that it and Livonia, Michigan-based Trinity Health, are pleased with the decision and focusing on patient care.
Husel’s lawyer in the matter called the decision disappointing and accused those health care systems of misleading the public.
“Mount Carmel and Trinity both know that Dr. Husel’s care was entirely appropriate and did not cause harm to any patient, and they should be standing up for their employees and defending them against all baseless allegations,” attorney Adam Ford of Ford O’Brien LLP said in an email.
In a separate defamation lawsuit against Mount Carmel and Trinity, Husel contends the patients died because of their illnesses, not the drugs he ordered.