Have you ever suspected your attorney is in bed with the attorneys from the opposite side? Doesn’t it seem suspicious when the pro and the con in a civil case, the prosecution and the defense, in a criminal case, all get together, smiling and goggling in private conversation while you sit wringing your wrists?
Is your attorney in bed with the other side?
The answer is, in most cases he or she is not. Most attorneys learned the hard way, being a dick to the opposing counsel is unprofessional and usually ends up hurting the client in the long run. What the client does not realize, underneath all of the cooing, there is lawyer rage seething, and waiting to be vented if necessary.
That is not the case with Las Vegas medical malpractice attorney Noel Gage of Gage and Gage, llp if allegations are true. He is accused of selling out to defense counsel in his representation of a patient who walked into surgery and was wheeled out a paraplegic.
Dan Burkhead, the anatheseologist, was responsible for puncturing a sac protecting Simon's spine. Extensive internal bleeding caused the nerves to push up against the spine and turned the one-time Olympic volleyball player into a paraplegic.
Still, the majority of the damage might have been prevented if Surgeon Mark Bradley Kabins had gone into immediate action rather than continue with his fishing trip. He waited 11 hours to perform emergency surgery even though he knew internal bleeding was causing the paralysis.
The problem in Melodies case is, the doctor’s defense counsel was not the only attorney she was battling during legal proceedings against spine surgeons John Thalgott and Mark Kabins. The government alleges her attorney made a deal with defense counsel for a lower settlement than would normally have been agreed to against the physicians. In exchange, attorney Gage was promised lucrative future cases.
Gage brought suit against spine surgeons John Thalgott and Mark Kabins on behalf of Melodie. After suit was filed, a self proclaimed "legal expert" approached Gage and offered to send him a lucrative case if he took the pressure off of the surgeons and put the blame onto the back of Anathesiologist Dan Burkhead. In fact, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Schiess, three days after the medical expert sent Gage a case that ultimately settled for $18 million, attorney Gage turned began to focus on the anathesiologist. Subsequently, little effort was spent on the surgeons.
Gage won the suit against Burkhead and Sunrise Hospital and medical center, where the surgery was performed. Melodie Simon received a $2.3 million settlement. Her net after fees and costs was 1.3 million which she claims won't cover her medical costs over her life.
After attorney fees and costs, Simon received $1.3 million, which she testified will never cover the costs of her medical needs.
If Assistant US Attorneys Steven Myhre and Dan Schiess had been able to prove their case Gage would have spent the rest of his life in prison. Even at age 71, that might have been a lot of years. What they got instead was a handout. Gage is going to plead guilty to felony obstruction of justice charges and return the attorney’s fees of $702,600 back to the paralyzed woman.
That is what they call a special type of plea bargain called an "Alford Plea". The plea is named after the 1970 United States Supreme Court decision of North Carolina v. Alford. It allows the accused to plead “no contest” to a lesser charge. He maintains his innocence to the original charge, admits he would probably be found guilty of the more serious original charge and accepts the lesser charge to be entered against him.