Suit seeks $700,000 from man investigated in fraud probe BALTIMORE CITY

December 29, 1992|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

A Baltimore medical clinic employee, cleared of charges of practicing medicine without a license when a state investigation into insurance fraud unraveled, was sued yesterday by a Catonsville man who says his insurance company refuses to pay for treatment performed by the employee.

In the $700,000 suit filed in Baltimore Circuit Court, James Douglas says he was treated starting in December 1990 at the Surgicare Medical Center Inc., for a knee injury sustained in an automobile accident. Mr. Douglas, 68, says clinic employee Michael Jerome Sterrett claimed to be Dr. Reginald W. Stalling while conducting an examination and prescribing physical therapy and medication.

Dr. Stalling, who runs Surgicare, was charged last spring along with Mr. Sterrett and a third clinic employee in connection with the state attorney general office's 18-month probe into insurance fraud. All charges against the men were dropped in August because a state trooper's testimony in their case would have been tainted.

That action came three weeks after the attorney general's office dropped felony theft and insurance fraud charges against veteran Baltimore attorney Nelson R. Kandel; the trooper who posed as an uninjured accident victim when she visited the lawyer's office had, in fact, been injured in a car accident the day before the visit. Terri L. Taylor, then a corporal in the agency, also participated in the investigation that led to charges against the Surgicare employees, the only others to have been charged in the 18-month investigation.

Mr. Douglas' lawyer, Dennis F. O'Brien, said yesterday the alleged deception came to light when an investigator from Allstate Insurance Co. heard about the charges against Mr. Sterrett and Dr. Stalling and showed the patient photographs of the men. In the suit, Mr. Douglas claims the insurance company refused to honor his claim for full value because his medical treatment was "in large part" performed by an unlicensed physician.

Mr. O'Brien says the medical bills from Surgicare came to about $3,200, but that his client is also seeking compensation for pain and suffering and lost wages. He is demanding $200,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages.

Attempts to reach Mr. Sterrett for comment were unsuccessful. Dr. Stalling's lawyer, George L. Russell Jr., declined to comment.

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