Doctor accused of slander prepares to pay colleague

Dr. Daniel Burkhead believes he has lost more than $1 million after Drs. Mark Kabins and John Thalgott blamed him, and him alone, for a patient becoming a paraplegic. In April, the Las Vegas anesthesiologist sued both doctors for slander, plus a third doctor in Louisiana, Charles Aprill, who served as their “expert” claiming Burkhead was totally responsible for the problems stemming from the treatment of Melodie Simon in 2000.

Now that Kabins has joined Thalgott in admitting they schemed to shift any blame from themselves to Burkhead, Kabins sees the time is right to settle the civil case, too.

A hearing is scheduled Dec. 29 before District Judge Betsy Gonzalez to approve the settlement.

Burkhead’s attorney, Matthew Callister, said Friday the settlement negotiations haven’t been filed publicly and he couldn’t provide dollar figures.

However, in prior documents, an expert calculated Burkhead’s economic loss from the slander was $1,013,406, plus interest of up to $354,229.

If the judge approves Kabins’ settlement offer, it will be for his portion of the damages, not the entire amount, Callister said, but he expects the total from the three doctors to be “much more than $1 million.”

Both Thalgott and Kabins gave depositions blaming Burkhead in the civil malpractice case that became the heart of the criminal case against Kabins, Las Vegas attorney Noel Gage and consultant Howard Awand.

Should be interesting to see how much money is enough to repay Dr. Burkhead for the loss of his reputation.

STANDARDS FOR JUDGMENT

Whatever happened to the guy who lied to a federal judge in 1985, saying he was a licensed lawyer.

Richard McCann took the path of least resistance. He didn’t apply for reappointment to the Nevada Board of Chiropractic Physicians following my Aug. 10 column.

If McCann had sought another term after his term expired Oct. 31, Gov. Jim Gibbons would have had to decide whether a 23-year-old contempt conviction was no big deal, as McCann contended, or a deal breaker. (It was pleaded down from a felony perjury count.)

The conviction was no big deal for the Board of Chiropractic Physicians. If McCann had sought reappointment, the board’s president, Dr. Ian Yamane, was going to write a letter of support for McCann, a board member representing consumers.

Former Gov. Kenny Guinn appointed McCann to the board in 2006 and, according to McCann, he was never asked whether he had any convictions and never filled out an application like most regulatory board members do.

By not seeking reappointment, McCann avoids becoming a test case for how clean the hands of a regulatory board member must be in Nevada.

BARRICK LECTURE SERIES

The nearly two-year dry spell of Barrick Lectures ended in 2009, with three lectures planned, although one was canceled.

In January, former Rep. J.C. Watts and journalists Gloria Borger and E.J. Dionne Jr. discussed economics and foreign affairs with local commentator Jon Ralston moderating.

In March, political correspondent George Stephanopolous spoke.

The Garrison Keillor event, postponed from September because of the humorist’s health problems, has been rescheduled for Jan. 19. (If you have tickets from September, you can exchange them at the UNLV Performing Arts Center box office between now and Dec. 19. Tickets for the general public are available starting Jan. 4.)

Under former UNLV President David Ashley, the Barrick Lectures went into hibernation following Marjorie Barrick’s death in April 2007. Like many others, I assumed she didn’t leave money to keep it going. Turns out, she endowed the university with about $10 million, but university officials lagged about reviving the series.

Here’s hoping new President Neal Smatresk will make it clear scheduling the popular and free series is a priority.

Otherwise, I’ll have to channel Marjorie Barrick’s spirit again.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. E-mail her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call 702- 383-0275. She also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/morrison.

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