Jewish World Review March 21, 2001 / 26 Adar, 5761
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- SALISBURY, N.C. -- When Dr. Rudy Busby's colleague lost a malpractice suit, Busby wanted every doctor at Rowan County's only hospital to know the names and addresses of the "jurors who have found a doctor guilty."
So Busby, a surgeon at Rowan Regional Medical Center, sent the doctors a letter in 1998 identifying the jurors and the bereaved relatives who had sued him and his colleague for medical malpractice over a fatal case of misdiagnosed appendicitis, according to court records. He called their court witnesses "others of whom I am leery."
The jury cleared Busby in the case but ordered the other doctor to pay $150,000.
Soon Busby was being sued again - by some of those jurors.
"What he did undermined the system itself," said juror Gene Moore, 50, a paper mill machine operator from China Grove, N.C.. "Jurors should be able to make a decision without fear of repercussions."
Moore and seven of the 11 other jurors sued Busby in 1999, accusing him of retaliating against them, interfering with their doctor relationships and obstructing justice.
A trial judge threw out their lawsuit, but the state Court of Appeals reinstated part of it this week.
The jurors say they feared they would be denied medical care, lose their doctors and have a hard time getting health insurance.
"We could not believe this happened," said Joy Clement, 55, of Salisbury, N.C., a secretary in the local school system office. "It really upset us. We live in a small town and have only a certain number of doctors here. It was scary."
And as for serving on a jury again someday, they say that prospect is no longer an honor, but a horror.
"I'll tell you how it affected me: I'll never serve on a jury again," Moore said. "If I'm called for jury duty, I'll tell the judge what happened and say, 'Lock me up.' "
Busby's lawyers said that he was entitled to free speech, that he only
publicized public information and that his letter had not broken any law. A
trial judge agreed, saying the suit failed to make a strong enough legal
case that Busby had hurt the
Matthew Eisley writes for the Raleigh News & Observer. Comment by clicking here.