Request for criminal prosecution of Teresa McDivitt and Sedgwick CMS
Dear District Attorney Totten:
This letter is to urge your office to investigate the filing of criminal charges against Ms. Teresa McDivitt and Sedgwick CMS due to their callous indifference to, and reckless disregard for, the health and welfare of Mr. Charles Romano, which resulted in his death. Ms. McDivitt knowingly and willfully defied a judge’s order to provide needed medical care to Mr. Romano.
June 20, 2013
Honorable Gregory Totten
District Attorney, County of Ventura
800 S Victoria Ave
Ventura, CA 93009
Re: Request for criminal prosecution of Teresa McDivitt and Sedgwick CMS
Dear District Attorney Totten:
This letter is to urge your office to investigate the filing of criminal charges against Ms. Teresa McDivitt and Sedgwick CMS due to their callous indifference to, and reckless disregard for, the health and welfare of Mr. Charles Romano, which resulted in his death. Ms. McDivitt knowingly and willfully defied a judge’s order to provide needed medical care to Mr. Romano. Mr. Romano was profoundly disabled by a work-related injury. Ms. McDivitt is a claims adjustor employed by Sedgwick CMS. Ms. McDivitt’s refusal to provide urgently needed medical care – despite being ordered to do so by the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board – caused incalculable suffering to Mr. Romano and hastened his death. The fact that Ms. McDivitt’s employer profited handsomely from this illegal behavior only serves to heighten the need for criminal sanctions against her.
Charles Romano injured his neck and left shoulder stocking shelves for Ralph’s Grocery in Camarillo. After surgery, Charles contracted a highly resistant staph infection that attacked his lungs, kidneys and paralyzed him. Sedgwick refused to pay for Charles’ care for the infection, saying it was unrelated. Even after a judge determined it was a result of the surgery, the insurance carrier continued to refuse care. Charles soon died.
The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) found that Sedgwick Claims Management Service, a third party claims administrator, defied a judge’s order to provide needed medical care. Sedgwick faces a relatively small monetary penalty, which means little to a huge corporation.
“We have rarely encountered a case in which a defendant has exhibited such blithe disregard for its legal and ethical obligation to provide medical care to a critically injured worker,” the [Workers’ Compensation] Appeals Board said. “Sedgwick CMS, acting as claims administrator for the Kroger Co./Ralph’s Grocery Co., demonstrated a callous indifference to the catastrophic consequences of its delays, inaction and outright neglect. …” (emphasis added)
To read the Romano decision, click here: http://www.workcompcentral.com/pdf/2013/misc/RomanovKroger.pdf
Is there a criminal sanction for defying a judge’s order that results in the death of a disabled patient known to be in extremis? When a drunk driver kills a pedestrian, it’s manslaughter. When a physician overprescribes painkillers and the patient dies, it’s criminal. Similarly, when a workers’ compensation insurance carrier acts the same way, it should be a criminal act.
Ms. McDivitt, who had more than 30 years’ experience in this field, knew that Mr. Romano’s injury included the lungs; that liability for medical care cannot be apportioned; that, even if a medical condition was not occupationally related, the employer must provide care if such care is necessary to cure or relieve the industrial injury; and, that she, as a lay insurance claims examiner, could not refuse to authorize medical treatment under the Utilization Review statute on grounds that it was not necessary to cure or relieve Mr. Romano’s injury. Despite all that, Ms. McDivitt and Sedgwick unilaterally denied authorization for a BiPAP, even though she knew that without it, Charles could stop breathing and die.
The fact that Ms. McDivitt’s employer profited from Mr. Romano’s death makes criminal sanctions even more important. Mr. Romano’s care was costing $24,000 per day. Instead of paying those medical care costs, Ms. McDivitt’s employer is now free of any payment, as Mr. Romano is dead.
Please let us know your determination in this important matter.
Ernest Canning, Attorney of Record for Charles Romano and The Romano Trust
Jill Singer George F. Benz
Louis Vigorita Kirby Thomas
James Wilson Roger C. Cognata
Robert Owens John Sugden
Attorneys at Law, Ventura County
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