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Radiologist Fights Judge’s Allegation Of Fakery

November 15, 2011
Written by: , Filed in: Chest Radiology, Diagnostic Imaging, Medical Ethics
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Radiologist Ray Harron, MD, of Bridgeport, West Virginia, is fighting in court to restore his reputation six years after a federal judge in Texas shredded it in a case involving silica-related lung disease.

CSX Transportation, the target of thousands of lawsuits over the years alleging that it exposed employees to lung-damaging asbestos, has turned the tables and sued Dr. Harron and three Pittsburgh lawyers.

The lawyers filed thousands of asbestos lawsuits in West Virginia courts. Dr. Harron, according to a pair of New York Times articles in 2005 and 2007, provided X-ray readings and written medical reports backing claims of asbestos-caused lung damage filed on behalf of more than 88,000 people.

According to the Times, Dr. Harron ended his regular radiology practice in the mid-1990s and began reading compensation-case X-rays full-time. The paper said he read as many as 150 a day, charging $125 for each report he produced.

In 2005, Dr. Harron supplied diagnoses of silicosis, a lung disease caused by exposure to silica, in a federal trial in Texas. Federal District Court Judge Janis Graham Jack found that Dr. Harron’s diagnoses did not rely on physical examinations, as the reports under his name claimed, but rather on X-rays and medical histories taken by law firms or screening companies (which set up X-ray screenings to look for silicosis victims and which were not staffed by doctors).

Jack made a more damaging charge: “When Dr. Harron first examined 1,807 plaintiff’s X-rays for asbestos litigation, he found them all to be consistent only with asbestosis and not with silicosis.” But after reexamining X-rays of the same 1,807 people “for silica litigation, Dr. Harron found evidence of silicosis in every case.”

It’s rare that one person would develop both diseases. The judge, a former nurse, concluded that the diagnoses “were manufactured for money.” She wrote:

The record does not reveal who originally devised this scheme, but it is clear that the lawyers, doctors and screening companies were all willing participants.

Now, CSX is taking aim at Dr. Harron. The Record, a West Virginia legal journal, reported that CSX filed a complaint in October alleging that Dr. Harron had supplied fraudulent asbestosis diagnoses. It said Dr. Harron had lost his medical license in seven states and had invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination 392 times in a deposition and once before a congressional subcommittee.

On November 7, a lawyer for Dr. Harron, Jerald Jones, responded with a court filing saying that Judge Jack’s allegations were false and that CSX’s complaint had slandered and defamed Dr. Harron. Jones wrote:

All and each of the allegations and statements made by the plaintiff are false, maliciouis, and untrue.

Regarding Dr. Harron’s loss of his medical license in seven states, Jones wrote that “the cause was Judge Jack, not misconduct, as no misconduct was ever established.” Regarding the invoking of the Fifth Amendment, Jones wrote that Dr. Harron did so on the advice of a lawyer.

All we can say is: what a mess.

Related seminar: Cardiovascular & Pulmonary Imaging

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One Response to “Radiologist Fights Judge’s Allegation Of Fakery”

  1. Radiology Daily»AlertArchive » Jury: Radiologist Helped Fake Asbestos Claims on December 21st, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    […] we reported in November 2011, CSX Transportation sued the defendants seven years ago. CSX had been the target of lawsuits […]