Insurance, Jury Duty, Trials, Weirdness

Jury Tells Judge That ‘Creepy’ Lawyer Is ‘Stalking’ Them

Does anyone really like insurance companies? The answer is, of course, no. Sure, some people tolerate their carriers, but no one really likes them.

Probably because they do things like send lawyers to watch trials and creep out the jury.

That’s the charge in this case, where the judge called the observing lawyer to the stand to confront him over the jury’s concern that he was “stalking” them.

Small Smiles Dental Clinics is a privately-owned chain of pediatric dentists (UPDATE: there is some dispute over whether all Small Smiles staff qualify as “pediatric dentists,” but we can all agree the company self-identifies as such). A number of lawsuits and a bi-partisan U.S. Senate report allege a scheme in which Small Smiles performed unnecessary and painful procedures on children to scam Medicaid payments and otherwise drive up revenues.

AIG, fresh off its effort to collapse the global economy, is the malpractice insurer for Small Smiles. Because good PR is everything. As a preeminent insurance company, AIG sent one of its attorneys to monitor the first trial to keep abreast of developments if it needs to later skip out on some payment that its lengthy policy suggests it’s supposed to pay via some loophole. This is pretty standard procedure so far. But as Dentist the Menace (oh, what a great blog name!) explains:

However, AIG, must have thought the jury would find the accused liable beyond belief, because they put Manhattan attorney Scott D. Greenspan in the courtroom to “monitor” the trial. AIG is the malpractice insurance carrier for the dentists, executives and clinic after the September 2006 sale to the group of guy and the Islamic Bank from Bahrain purchased the clinics.

Now, I don’t know what most people feel is considered “monitoring” but Scott took it way beyond “monitoring”.  He took it all the way to “creepy stalker’.

According to testimony given at a hearing Friday, October 10, Scott Greenspan was hired by Denise D’Assaro who works for AIG Claims, Inc. Scott is a partner at Sedgwick, LLP. According to Linkedin, Denise is “Complex Claims Director” at Chartis and has been since 1998.

According to Greenspan, he only spoke to the jurors once, when they asked him who he was, to tell them that he could not talk to them. He also admits to having gone to the same restaurant as the jurors, but said it was purely by chance. This is, again, pretty much par for the course.

The jurors got a different impression. Take it away, Justice Deborah Karalunas:

The second question the jurors asked me was who was the individual who was stalking them throughout this trial. When I inquired of the jurors what did the person look like who was “stalking” them, to use the juror’s word, they advised me that it was the individual who I had admonished — I don’t know that the jury used that word — during the course of the trial, the individual with the computer.

The jurors described for me their interactions with you, Mr. Greenspan. They used the word that you were creepy, that you were very seedy, that you were in the elevator with them frequently, that you followed them to various places where they had lunch, identifying four restaurants; that you were waiting in the lobby of the courtroom and got into the elevator with them after lunch to ride up in the elevator with them.

The “admonishing” that Justice Karalunas describes involved her scolding Greenspan for distractingly clacking away on a laptop throughout the trial, which is annoying. Not as annoying as being followed, but annoying.

For his part, Greenspan makes a very good point about how tiny Syracuse is. It’s not hard to believe that a lawyer would go to the same restaurant as the jurors. On the other hand, Google Maps seems to think there are a bunch of options around that Taqueria that Greenspan keeps mentioning. A little more exploration could have avoided this whole episode, and who doesn’t want to extensively explore Syracuse?

If Greenspan really wasn’t trying to stalk the jury, at least he can take heart in knowing that he’s by no means the first lawyer anyone ever called creepy.

To read Greenspan’s testimony, just head to the next page….

(hidden for your protection)

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