Gynecologist who left Md. is sued by 2nd patient

July 08, 1994|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Sun Staff Writer

An Annapolis gynecologist who surrendered his license to practice amid complaints that he had sex with patients was hit with a $4 million suit yesterday by a former patient who alleges he seduced her.

It was the second such suit filed in Anne Arundel Circuit Court against Dr. Jeffrey Briggs in two weeks.

The former patient alleges that Dr. Briggs, 40, had a relationship with her while she was his patient between early 1990 and August 1992, and that he used her "for his own personal and emotional satisfaction."

Dr. Briggs "wrongfully took advantage of his position of power and trust" in initiating and encouraging the relationship, the suit alleges.

The patient "has suffered severe emotional distress, mental anguish, fear of doctors, requires additional therapy and treatment and has incurred medical and other expenses," the suit says.

A Severna Park woman who sued Dr. Briggs June 23 alleges that he got her pregnant two times and that he persuaded her to have two abortions while she was his patient.

That suit also claims that Dr. Briggs removed an intrauterine device from the plaintiff after her first abortion, failed to tell her he had removed it and later performed the second abortion himself "at his office secretly in the evening after the office was officially closed."

Dr. Briggs surrendered his license to practice medicine Nov. 19, 1992, after the patients filed complaints with the state Board of Physician Quality Assurance. He has since moved to upstate New York, where he held another license to practice medicine.

He is working at the Women's Health Clinic in Carthage, N.Y., and has staff privileges at the Carthage Area Hospital. He did not return phone calls yesterday.

Legal experts say doctors frequently move to another state when their licenses are suspended or revoked in one state.

"It's something that happens all too frequently," said Joanne L. Suder, a lawyer representing the Severna Park woman.

Officials in Carthage say they knew about the allegations and discussed them with Dr. Briggs before hiring him. Lawrence Hasseler, a lawyer and president of the Carthage hospital's board of directors, said Dr. Briggs attributed the complaints to "mistakes of judgment" that involved women with whom he had romantic relationships.

Dr. Briggs' legal problems are not limited to Maryland. The Watertown, N.Y. Daily Times reported last month that on Sept. 24, 1993, a 22-year-old patient filed a complaint with the New York state Health Department saying Dr. Briggs humiliated and offended her during a vaginal exam.

William Fagel, a spokesman for the department's Office of Professional Medical Conduct, said state law prohibits him from discussing whether any physician is under investigation. He also said that "it might be worth it to make periodic checks" on the status of Dr. Briggs' license.

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