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Circuit Upholds Attorney Sanctions In Bungled Case

NEW ORLEANS (CN) - Attorneys for awoman'smedical malpractice claimhave to pay$4,488 for filing suit against the wrong doctor, the 5th Circuit ruled.

Their client, Sarah Ratliff, claimed she suffered complications from taking the drug Stadol NS, prescribed by a "Dr. Stewart" in McComb, Miss. Without investigating, her lawyers filed a complaint against Lawrence Stewart. He was the wrong doctor. His late father, Edsel Ford Stewart, had prescribed the pills.

Oddly enough, Lawrence also had a patient named Sarah Ratliff who told him she was not the Sarah Ratliff who was suing him.

It took about seven months to sort it all out, but a second round of errors muddled a resolution. Five months after being dismissed from the case, Lawrence Stewart's attorney sent a letter to follow up on attorney fees to Judge Senter, the first judge, after the case had been reassigned to Judge Starrett.

To make matters worse, Senter decided to award attorney fees, although he no longer presided over the case. Ratliff appealed, and the circuit largely affirmed the fees. See ruling.


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