Friday, July 20, 2012
A Pawleys Island doctor who was hit with a $1 million lawsuit by a former employee earlier this year is now defending two more similar suits filed by two other employees.
On Friday, Michele Stephenson and Shaun Faison, both represented by Surfside Beach attorney David Durant, filed lawsuits against Dr. Michele Mittelbronn, a physician at Coastal Dermatology LLC.
Stephenson — whose normal job is in the billing department — was working for Mittelbronn on March 1 when she was in an examination room helping the doctor with a patient. Stephenson was asked to help because another worker was not there at the time.
The suit states Mittelbronn “stormed into the exam room and put her hand in [Stephenson’s] stomach and physically pushed [her] towards the wall to move [her] out of her way, in order to get to patient.”
Stephenson says after the patient left, she tried to discuss what happened with Mittelbronn but the doctor “just yelled all the way down the hall blaming it on” Stephenson.
Later that same day Stephenson reportedly told Mittelbronn a money bag was ready to be transported to the company’s Mount Pleasant office. She asked Mittelbronn to take the bag with her when she went to that office.
The suit states Mittelbronn “picked up the deposit bag and threw it at [Stephenson], telling her to let someone else worry about getting the deposit bag” to that office.
Stephenson says the actions of Mittelbronn have caused her mental anguish and shock, loss of income and loss of enjoyment of personal, family and social life.
Faison, in her suit, says she was a nursing assistant in July 2011 when she and Mittelbronn were performing a biopsy on a patient.
Mittelbronn, during the procedure, got upset and “threw the used needle at [Faison] causing it to stick into her skin,” the suit states.
In September of last year, the two were working together on another biopsy when Mittelbronn again allegedly stuck Faison with a used needle.
Faison, in the suit, claims the same thing happened a third time as the two were performing a biopsy in December.
Stephenson and Faison are each seeking $1 million in their lawsuits.
Third suit this year
As reported by the Georgetown Times in April, another Coastal Dermatology worker filed a $1 million lawsuit against Mittelbronn.
In that suit, Heather Tisdale, a nursing assistant, says on Feb. 2 while she and Mittelbronn were performing a skin culture on a patient Mittelbronn placed the used syringe facing upward on the counter and did not inform her.
Tisdale said she stuck herself with the needle and claims the act by Mittelbronn “ was intentional” to cause her harm.
Another incident, Tisdale claims, also occurred March 1.
Tisdale says she was working with a patient who was filing consent forms when Mittelbronn started yelling at her while asking why the patient was not ready for surgery and why the surgery tray was not set up, the suit states.
Tisdale said she was continuing to numb the patient in preparation for surgery when Mittelbronn asked how many syringes she had put in the surgery area. When Tisdale said five syringes were in the room, Mittelbronn “was extremely irate and screamed for (Tisdale) to add another syringe.”
Tisdale alleges Mittelbronn “stormed over” and “pushed her right hand causing her to go to the left hand side the room.” Tisdale was holding a used syringe in her right hand at the time.
The syringe, according to the suit, “was forced into her left hand when she was being pushed by (Mittelbronn).”
Tisdale resigned from her job at Coastal Dermatology. DuRant — also representing Tisdale — said his client did not file criminal charges at the time of the alleged incidents.
“The way to hurt somebody like that is in their pocketbook,” DuRant said. “They’re not going to get anything but a slap on the wrist for a simple assault.”
Mittelbronn’s attorney, Robert Buffington, said Mittelbronn “absolutely denies the allegations and will be vigorously contesting the claims made by Ms. Tisdale.”
Buffington said he had not seen the lawsuits filed by the other two employees so he couldn’t comment.
Mittelbronn graduated from the University of Florida College of Medicine in 1997, according to the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. The state medical board lists her license as being in good standing without any disciplinary action.
By Scott Harper