A six-person jury has awarded a Bronx man $14.5 million in a verdict against New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority after the MTA’s expert witness admitted that his medical license had been recently been suspended over fraudulent exam reports.
In 2013, an MTA bus crossed two lanes of traffic and hit a Honda Odyssey minivan driven by Miguel de los Santos. De los Santos was driving his wife to her birthday party on Pelham Parkway near the Bronx Zoo in New York when the crash occurred.
The accident left de los Santos with serious back injuries that required spinal reconstructive surgery. His attorney, Eric Subin, said that the 66-year-old retired building superintendent now “shuffles around with a cane.”
His spouse, a NYPD police officer, was a passenger in the vehicle. She escaped with minor injuries.
De los Santos sued the MTA in Bronx Supreme Court. The MTA retained Dr. Roger Antoine, a surgeon at Wyckoff Hospital in Brooklyn as its medical expert. Dr. Antoine testified on November 15 that a February 2015 exam showed that de los Santos had normal muscle strength and range of motion in his back.
At trial, de los Santos’ attorney Eric Subin cross-examined Dr. Antoine on the stand and got the doctor to admit that he had “no memory” of examining de los Santos.
Subin asked Dr. Antoine, “Do you remember performing that exam?” Dr. Antoine replied, “I do not remember.” Subin asked again, “No memory of it at all?” Dr. Antoine replied, “No.”
Dr. Antoine also acknowledged that he was temporarily barred from treating injured workers and performing independent medical exams. The Workman’s Compensation Board conducted a two-year investigation of Dr. Antoine’s activities and determined that he had signed off on phony reports, including a report where the doctor incorrectly stated that a victim was faking his injuries.
According to Subin, the medical report was fabricated by a “chaperone” paid for by the MTA who sat in on the exam, took notes on the exam, then used the doctor’s electronic signature on the document. Dr. Antoine admitted that he is supposed to review and sign all exam reports.
Dr. Antoine resigned his authorizations to treat injured workers and perform independent medical examinations in the New York State workers’ compensation system on March 16, 2018. Due to this resignation, Dr. Antoine is prohibited from rendering treatment and care to injured workers. Reports submitted by Dr. Antoine for services rendered prior to March 16, 2018 are authorized. Any report submitted by Dr. Antoine for services rendered after March 16, 2018 are not authorized.
Following a month-long trial, a four-woman, two-man jury returned a $14.5 million verdict for de los Santos.
De los Santos was pleased with the award. He said, “I’m happy. . . . The MTA lied a lot. All the way from the [bus] driver to the doctor. But the jurors made their decision and they felt for me.”
Photo Credit: An M15 SBS bus passes Madison and James Streets, bound for South Ferry, Own work (Original text: I (Fan Railer (talk)) created this work entirely by myself). Fan Railer [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons