Stewart Has Been Sued for Debt; DesJarlais for Malpractice

Debate in Tennessee’s bitter 4th District congressional campaign turned over the weekend to the respective candidates’ past legal problems, reports Andy Sher.
Democrat Eric Stewart was sued by Citibank in November 2011 for failing to pay on nearly $5,000 in credit card debt, Franklin County General Sessions Court records show. Republican incumbent Scott DesJarlais, a physician, has a “history” of medical malpractice, state Democrats claim, citing claims in 1991 and 2004.
Citibank sued Stewart on Dec. 6, 2011, a little over a month after the state senator and insurance agent announced he was running for Congress. DesJarlais campaign manager Brandon Lewis said the lawsuit underscores a pattern of financial mismanagement that makes Stewart unqualified to tackle the nation’s debts.
“When Tennesseans are struggling to find jobs, we can’t count on someone with failed businesses, multiple IRS tax liens and warrants for unpaid personal debts,” he said. Small businesses “know that Eric Stewart’s support of Barack Obama’s policies and Obamacare will mean additional tax burdens that may put them out of business and cost Tennesseans even more jobs,” Lewis said.
Attorney Bill Shick, who represented Citibank, said Stewart settled the debt Dec. 27, 2011, but the suit wasn’t officially dropped until March 6.
…Already rocked by revelations that DesJarlais dated at least two patients while separated from his first wife, his campaign over the weekend responded to new charges by the Tennessee Democratic Party that his medical practice shows a “history of lawsuits.”
Democrats cited a 1991 malpractice suit in Kansas and Tennessee records indicating he settled a malpractice claim here in 2004.
Kansas court records show a hospital, DesJarlais and another doctor were sued in a case involving a newborn they delivered who had a severe form of cerebral palsy.
After a difficult labor, the other doctor determined a caesarian section was necessary and instructed a nurse to push the baby’s head up the birth canal to accommodate the procedure, according to a Kansas appellate court opinion.
The jury ruled in favor of DesJarlais and the other defendant, and the appellate court upheld the ruling.
And Tennessee Health Department records show DesJarlais in 1994 settled an “above average” malpractice claim of at least $75,000. The records contain no additional information, and Democrats said they could not find a publicly filed lawsuit. A Democratic Party spokesman said the actions raise issues of trust.

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