W. Va. Judge Seals Records in Medical Malpractice Case

June 13, 2007

Legal documents in the numerous lawsuits filed against a former Putnam County General Hospital osteopath have been placed off limits by a West Virginia judge overseeing the cases.

Putnam County Circuit Judge O.C. Spaulding ordered documents sealed in the medical malpractice lawsuits involving Dr. John King. “The more disinformation placed in the public record, the less likely we are to get a neutral jury pool free of biases,” Spaulding said.

Lawyers representing Putnam General pushed for Spaulding to seal the files due to pretrial publicity.

King faces more than 100 medical malpractice lawsuits brought by former patients or their survivors from his seven-month stint at Putnam General. King left the hospital in 2003 and has since changed his name to Christopher Wallace Martin. King’s medical privileges have been taken away by West Virginia and several other states.

Putnam General was owned by Hospital Corporation of America Inc. at the time. It has since been taken over by Charleston Area Medical Center.

The first trials in the lawsuit are scheduled to begin next month. Spaulding and Putnam County Circuit Judge Edward Eagloski are divvying up the case.

King, meanwhile, has filed a federal lawsuit in Florida against two lawyers and a law firm representing Putnam General. The suit alleges they damaged King’s reputation by releasing documents and information about his credentials. The suit seeks $60 million in damages.

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