There are few felons who can top the pain caused by so many victims as Dr. Farid Fata, who is facing a demand by prosecutors for a 175-year sentence for sending hundreds of healthy patients into unnecessary cancer treatments.
Some 553 patients were given the unnecessary cancer treatments to 553 patients before Fata was arrested in 2013. He was accused of $35 million in Medicare fraud. He pleaded guilty in the fall to fraud, money laundering and conspiracy charges.
Absent the plea, some of the cases might have produced some challenging evidentiary burdens. Some of the patients had cancer but were over treated while some received the wrong treatment for their type of cancer. Those could be defended as malpractice but not fraud. However, there appeared to be enough evidence of knowing fraud to force Fata to throw in the towel on trial.
The trial itself would have allowed patients to recount how they suffered organ damage as a result of unnecessary treatment. Moreover, these victims had to tell their loved ones that they had cancer and prepare their families for their possible deaths. One man lost a testicle and came close to kidney failure due to the unnecessary treatment.
What most concerns me are accounts of people complaining as early as 2010 with no action taken to shutdown this doctor.
In the meantime, the defense counsel is seeking a limit on victim’s statements for sentencing — a difficult proposition for a court in cutting off the right of victims to speak about their loss and pain.
Another interesting aspect of this case is how to handle the civil liability. He presumably had insurance coverage but the sheer number of cases presents a daunting problem for courts. This would seem a good case for special management like a mass tort situation where a court can administer the claims while reducing the litigation costs. Since liability is obvious, it would be unfair to see these victims paying either full contingency fees or high hourly rates for victims of 30 percent or more. Ideally, these claims can be administered through a single court. However, the insurance company may wish to contest some cases as properly diagnosed. That could lead to litigation in those marginal cases.