Tainted testimony?

The SE Texas Record Oct. 6, 2007, 6:47am

Is there a great asbestos lawsuit fraud worth uncovering here in Beaumont?

It's a question worth asking this week, in light of serious accusations leveled against Mississippi pulmonologist Dr. Jay T. Segarra.

In a Philadelphia courtroom, Segarra stands today accused of fraud, falsely diagnosing plaintiffs with asbestos cancer not because they actually had it, but rather because the diagnoses stood to make him personally rich.

Defendants say his "expert" testimony-- his medical opinion serves as the basis justifying legal action in the first place-- is tainted; they want it excluded and Segarra disqualified.

That's in Pennsylvania. So what about right here, in Southeast Texas?

As exclusively reported by The Record, before Dr. Segarra met the city of Brotherly Love, he collaborated with plaintiff's lawyers here in Beaumont. His "expertise" has also been used in court by some of the region's most notorious asbestos litigators, including Wayne Reaud, Brent Coon and Walter Umphrey.

In fact, Segarra's name currently appears in association with pending asbestos cases in Jefferson County District Court, his "expertise" cited as supportive of plaintiff claims that asbestos is responsible for their sickness.

Segarra, who reportedly has earned $10 million deeming folks to have lawsuit-quality asbestos diseases, found the cross-hairs because of his profligacy. According to public records, Segarra claims he diagnosed some 40,000 sick plaintiffs over the past 13 years, or nearly a dozen every single workday during the stretch. On 14 occasions, Dr. Segarra reported diagnosing more than 50 plaintiffs as sick in a single day, an unbelievable feat.


Given his emphasis on quantity over quality, one now has to wonder how many, if any, of Dr. Segarra's diagnoses were legitimate. And that's not just in Philadelphia, but here in Beaumont as well.

Just as they would the belated revelation of police or prosecutorial misconduct in a criminal case, local authorities should take these allegations made against Dr. Segarra very seriously. That means his work here, even in settled cases no longer active in the court, needs to, at minimum, be revisited.

In light of the mounting evidence, to do otherwise would compromise the integrity of our civil justice system. The people should be able to trust that sworn "expert" testimony given in their courts comes in search of justice, not profits.

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