Two Plead Guilty to Medical Litigation Scheme Where Clients Underwent Risky Surgery to Boost Claims

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Sep 20, 2021
A doctor and a medical consultant have pleaded guilty to a scheme where they are said to have pressured hundreds of women into undergoing risky surgeries to boost the claims in future litigation, said the New York Times

The scheme was centered around the use of pelvic mesh products, which were initially used to treat weakened pelvic muscles but were eventually discontinued when it was found they can cause numerous health issues, including organ prolapse. The two men, Dr. Christopher Walker and Wesley Blake Barber, admitted they were part of a network that pressured hundreds of women to get the meshes removed, saying those who did tended to get higher payouts than those who still had it in their bodies. Because the mesh bonds to the internal organs, however, this surgery can be risky, and sometimes lead to patients being even worse off than they were before. These surgeries were sometimes hastily booked without even a second opinion. 

Barber, among others, had been referring these women to doctors like Walker in exchange for kickbacks from medical professionals. Many women later said they didn't fully understand what they had agreed to. Many of these surgeries were paid for through litigation finance firms that had also been part of the scheme; these companies gave the patients an advance on their expected settlement . For many, this meant that even if they won their suits, all the money would go to pay back the advance. 

Barber could face up to four years in federal prison; Walker could face up to eight. The Times noted that, on top of these criminal charges, civil litigation is also ongoing against the two men. 

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