From The Cancer Chronicles #3
©1989 by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.

Stanislaw R. Burzynski, M.D., Ph.D. of Houston has won an important round in his battle against the Aetna Life Insurance Company. An Illinois judge has ruled that Aetna's attorneys overstepped their bounds by seeking confidential records of patients from other insurers. He ordered them to pay over $11,000 in legal fees to Abady and Jaffe, the New York law firm that represents the Houston doctor.

Aetna had originally sought such records as part of its $600,000 RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corruption Organizations Act) suit against Burzynski, the discoverer of antineoplastons. The Wall Street Journal recently called the RICO act "a horror" and a "Frankenstein's monster," adding, "Only Congress has the power to kill the creature" (November 15, 1989).

If Aetna wins, it can collect three times this amount, plus legal costs, effectively putting the clinic out of business. Grace Monaco is Aetna's consultant on the case.

The present suit arose when the court twice refused to allow Aetna's attorneys to see complete medical records of patients covered by other companies. It did allow them to see some such records, provided that all private information was deleted. Frustrated by these restrictions, Aetna's attorneys "decided that it was perfectly okay to go to these insurance companies directly...and seek information from them," in the words of U.S. District Judge Michael Mihm. Aetna's attorneys, Hinshaw and Culbertson, had a Springfield, Illinois clerk send subpoenas to fellow insurance companies.

"It's a little hard for me to understand why legal issues would be assigned to secretaries and clerks," the judge stated in his decision, October 13, 1989.

The other insurance companies thought they were facing "an official mandate of the Court," said the judge. The result was that the attorneys received private records of Dr. Burzynski's patients in disregard not just of the judge's orders but of confidentiality. "I'm very troubled" by this situation, the judge told the lawyers in a phone conference, calling their indifference to his order "almost unconscionable."

Judge Mihm did not disqualify Aetna's attorneys from the case. But he ordered them to pay Abady and Jaffe's fees in connection with this complaint. He also barred Aetna from any use of this information and ordered the data segregated. Judge Mihm's decision is the latest slap at the attorneys of the billion dollar company.

Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D. is director of the The Moss Reports for cancer patients. Dr. Moss is the author of eleven books and three documentaries on cancer-related topics. He is or has been an advisor on alternative cancer treatments to the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the American Urological Association, Columbia University, the University of Texas, the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the German Society of Oncology. He wrote the first article on alternative medicine for the Encyclopedia Britannica yearbook. He is listed in Marquis Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in the East, and Who's Who in Entertainment (as a film documentarian). This Web site does not advocate any particular treatment for cancer. We urge you to always seek competent medical advice for all health problems, especially cancer. Before consulting our site please read our full Disclaimer statement.

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