Doctors, medical society seek dismissal in Bradley suit

Slights to rule in 90 days
September 27, 2011
Lawyers for the Medical Society of Delaware are seeking to be dismissed from a class-action civil suit against convicted rapist Earl Bradley and Beebe Medical Center. The society says it had no regulatory authority over Bradley's behavior. BY FILE

The Medical Society of Delaware and doctors Lowell Scott, James Marvel and Carol Tavani are all seeking to be dismissed from a class action lawsuit against themselves, convicted rapist Earl Bradley and Beebe Medical Center.

Delaware Superior Court Judge Joseph Slights III heard the motions to dismiss at a hearing on Sept. 16 at New Castle County courthouse in Wilmington.

Bradley was sentenced on Aug. 26 to 14 life sentences and 164 years in prison after being convicted of 24 counts of rape, assault and sexual exploitation of 86 child patients.

Because of all the different parties involved in the class-action suit, the hearing felt more like a meeting of the Delaware Bar Association, with more than 30 lawyers present representing plaintiffs, insurance companies, Beebe, the doctors and the medical society.

Neilli Walsh of Young, Conaway, Stargatt and Taylor, the Wilmington law firm tabbed to speak on behalf of the class, said Bradley’s sister, Lynda Barnes, alerted the medical society and the doctors to Bradley’s behavior. Walsh said Barnes told the medical society about her brother possibly abusing his patients and pleaded with the society to do something. She described Barnes’ actions as “a cry for help,” not only for Bradley’s patients but also for Bradley himself.

Walsh said the medical society assured Barnes they would look into it but ultimately did nothing. She said the society was alerted about Bradley’s actions in 2004, and he was still abusing patients in 2009.

“They threw her under the bus,” Walsh said.

She said Bradley was empowered by the medical society because they looked the other way.

“He (Bradley) felt himself invincible,” Walsh said.

She said the medical society did not have control over Bradley’s actions, but did have control over the situation and could have tried to stop Bradley.

Attorney Collins Seitz, representing the medical society, said the medical community was outraged one of their own could commit such unspeakable acts. However, Seitz said the medical society is a volunteer group with no jurisdiction or authority to do anything about Bradley’s behavior.

Regulation of physicians is done by the state Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline.

Seitz said the medical society did not have any control, custody or authority over Bradley. He said the society could get physician help if the doctor asks for it, but has no authority to legislate physicians in its ranks.

Attorneys for the other doctors piggybacked on the medical society’s argument, also asking to be dismissed from the suit, saying they are not liable for Bradley’s actions.

Beebe and Bradley are not asking for a dismissal from the suit.

This is the second time the motion to dismiss has come before Slights. In February, Slights dismissed the case against the medical society and the doctors, but allowed the plaintiffs a chance to appeal.

Slights has until Thursday, Dec. 1 to make a ruling on the motions. After the hearing, Seitz said if Slights rules in favor of a dismissal, the medical society and the doctors would be dropped from the class-action suit. The plaintiffs would have the chance to appeal to a higher court.


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