Jury returns $23 million verdict to chiropractors against CSX Transportation

A Greenup County jury has returned a nearly $23 million verdict against CSX Transportation and its chief medical officer for defaming two chiropractors and interfering with their doctor-patient relationship.

The verdict, handed down September 22, included $10.7 million in punitive damages for chiropractors Daniel Carey II and Shannon Johnson each.

One of their attorneys said it was the largest verdict ever in Greenup, about 190 miles east of Louisville.

Carey and Johnson sued after the railroad’s chief medical officer, Dr. Craig Heligman, sent a letter to a federal railroad agency, three insurance companies and the state’s chiropractic boards. Ohio and Kentucky accusing them of fraudulently treating CSX employees in the tri-state area, which also includes West Virginia.

The jury found that Heligman and CSX’s accusations were false and interfered with Carey and Johnson’s relationships with their patients.

Lawyers for the chiropractors’ trial, Jeff Dingwall of San Diego and Greg Paul of Pittsburgh, said in a press release that evidence at trial further demonstrates that CSX was seeking to evade its obligation to pay medical benefits to treated employees. by Carey and Johnson and that he acted fraudulently, oppressively, maliciously or grossly negligently.

According to a federal court notice, Heligman wrote to the Railroad Retirement Board saying he had become “suspicious” of chiropractors and their patients after noticing the number of claims submitted within weeks of each other by the same two providers. , as well as their proximity. similarity.

Between May and July 2017, 56 employees saw one of the two chiropractors, who put them all under medical restriction and signed a medical certificate for each, according to the federal notice.

All of the certificates listed soft tissue injuries to the back, neck or shoulder, and all but one of the injuries occurred while off duty. The demands said they would have to be out for eight weeks or more.

The chiropractors filed a complaint in 2018.

This month, the jury found Heligman and CSX liable for a total of $21.4 million in punitive damages as well as about $1.4 million in business losses.

He revealed that CSX and Heligman would no longer accept Carey’s medical documents and that the decision was motivated by “vexation, ill will or a desire to harm him”.

Jacksonville-based CSX said it would appeal the decision.

“CSX appreciates the legal process and we thank the jurors for their service. However, we are disappointed with the decision in this case,” the company said in a statement. “A company’s medical or human resources employees should be able to report conduct they deem suspicious to the appropriate authorities charged with investigating such matters, without fear of retaliation.”

Andrew Wolfson: 502-582-7189; [email protected]; Twitter: @adwolfson.

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