The former deputy executive director of the Medical Society of New Jersey filed a whistleblower lawsuit in Superior Court, Trenton, N.J., against his former employer and four members of its executive committee. Neil Weisfeld alleged that he was wrongfully discharged in April for suggesting that the medical society and its leadership had a conflict of interest because of their relationship to a now defunct medical malpractice insurance company, the MIIX Group. Weisfeld told Modern Healthcare's Daily Dose that on April 3 after 11 years with the society, he was "suddenly pulled out of a meeting and given a two-line letter of dismissal with no warning or explanation." Armed security guards escorted him off the grounds, he said. "I think this sheds an awful lot of light on the liability crisis," said Weisfeld's attorney, Ronald Schmidt of Shaffer, Rapaport & Schmidt in Washington. "I think no one has explored the relationship between the doctors and the insurance companies failing because of the doctors on their boards."
Officials at the medical society said they hadn't yet seen the lawsuit. "Nevertheless, for either Mr. Weisfeld or his attorney to ascribe the tort crisis to (the termination of) Mr. Weisfeld in any manner is one of the most absurd things I've heard in quite some time," said Robert Conroy, the medical society's general counsel. "We're talking about a national crisis. I doubt anyone in Congress even knows who he is. It's a sad effort to connect two separate issues." Founded by the medical society, which owned a 6% stake, the MIIX Group was New Jersey's largest malpractice insurer until it suffered a fourth-quarter operating loss of $162.8 million last year. The company has since reinvented itself into the MIIX Advantage Insurance Company of New Jersey, a reciprocal insurance company, similar to a mutual, in which policyholders also are the owners. -- by Cinda Becker