Coal company lawyer edits doctor's report

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Coal company lawyer edits doctor's report

Post by ziggy on Mon Feb 07, 2011 10:49 pm

February 6, 2011
Black lung suspension headed to U.S. Supreme Court
By Andrew Clevenger
The Charleston Gazette
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The case of a Jackson Kelly attorney sanctioned by the West Virginia Supreme Court for withholding evidence in a black lung case appears headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Earlier this month, the state justices refused Jackson Kelly's request to rehear Douglas Smoot's case, 5-0, but they did grant a 90-day stay of mandate -- effectively putting Smoot's one-year suspension on hold -- so that Jackson Kelly could file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.

Smoot admitted that he removed the "narrative summary" portion of a doctor's report before disclosing it to a retired miner with an eighth-grade education who spent 42 years underground and was representing himself at the time. He claimed that federal law that governs black lung benefits cases did not require him to, and that the portion he removed was "equivocal" and "self-contradictory."

The court disagreed, finding that the removed portion had evidentiary value and that "Smoot's conduct was deceitful, dishonest, a misrepresentation, and prejudicial to the administration of justice," in a unanimous opinion written by Justice Robin Davis.

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