Mount Carmel Asks Courts To Pause Civil Cases During Investigation | WOSU Radio

Mount Carmel Asks Courts To Pause Civil Cases During Investigation

May 16, 2019

Mount Carmel Health System filed a motion to pause the civil cases against fired doctor William Husel, the ICU doctor accused of giving high doses of pain medication to dozens of patients.

Since Husel's firing was made public in January, more than two dozen families have filed wrongful death lawsuits against Husel and the hospital.

The hospital's stay request calls for all civil case proceedings be stopped while criminal and State Medical Board investigations are still ongoing.

"When parallel criminal and civil cases are pending, discovery in the civil case may be stayed pending the outcome of criminal proceedings," the motion reads. 

The motion also argues that because Husel invoked the Fifth Amendment, declining to answer all questions, the health system "cannot investigate or defend against pending claims."

"Our legal request for a temporary pause is common when ongoing governmental and criminal investigations are occurring at the same time as civil lawsuits," a Mount Carmel spokeswoman said in a statement. "We stand by our commitment to doing what is right and fair for the families affected by these events."

Attorney Gerland Leeseberg, who represents several families in their civil cases, said the motion should be ignored. 

"Such a desperate strategy to hide what happened is contrary to Ohio law and will not be endorsed by the Court," Leeseberg wrote in a statement.

Husel's team is currently trying to consolidate the civil cases into one.

Timeline: The Mount Carmel Scandal So Far

This is the latest in a long legal battle between families who lost loved ones at Mount Carmel under Husel's care. At least three families reached a settlement with the hospital, with one family receiving a sum of $250,000. Leeseberg's firm, meanwhile, rejected a settlement offer they called "unreasonable, offensive, and disrespectful."

Husel worked as an anesthesiologist and ICU doctor at the hospital from 2013 until his firing in December 2018. Mount Carmel says during that time, at least 34 patients were given higher-than-usual painkiller doses under his care. All the patients died after receiving the painkiller doses.

Responding to one lawsuit, Husel denied intentionally ending a patient's life with a painkiller dose. The doctor's lawyer argued Husel is immune from lawsuits under state law.

The Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office is currently investigating the case. The office released a statement saying that it's looking into 29 deaths connected to Husel.

"There are dozens of witnesses that must be interviewed, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and families of patients,” the statement reads. “There are thousands of pages of medical records that must first be obtained and reviewed by police and prosecutors, but then by expert medical witnesses.”

According to the statement, Husel voluntarily gave his passport to authorities while the investigation continues.

The Ohio Medical Board suspended Husel’s medical license and served him a citation saying he could face further discipline. Husel will appear before the board in July to appeal the suspension and possible permanent revocation of his license.

If you have information to share about the Mount Carmel investigation, please contact WOSU at paige.pfleger@wosu.org.