Attorneys for Husel, Mount Carmel argue for “pause” in civil cases

WBNS-10TV
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COLUMBUS (WBNS) – With former Mount Carmel doctor William Husel facing 25 murder charges related to the deaths of his patients, his attorney argued in court Tuesday for pause in civil litigation against Husel and Mount Carmel Health System – arguing that it could prevent his client from getting a fair trial.

“Doctor Husel is facing two types of actions, a criminal action and a civil action. He deserves… a fair trial in both. And while both actions are going on, he can’t get it. I can’t defend him appropriately when both are going on,” Foliano said.

Attorney Greg Foliano argued before Magistrate Ed Skeens that the discovery and depositions in the civil cases should be put on hold indefinitely while a criminal case against Dr. William Husel is still pending.

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“It's not all about the 5th amendment; it's about can we get a fair trial.”

Husel is accused of providing excessive or potentially fatal doses of pain medication to 35 near-death patients. The hospital fired Husel in December after an internal investigation. A grand jury indicted Husel on 25 counts of murder earlier this month.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said the 25 charges stem from the patients who received 500 micrograms or more of fentanyl – a powerful synthetic opioid.

Husel has pleaded not guilty. His criminal attorney, Richard Blake, has said that Husel was providing comfort care for these patients who were near the end of their lives anyway and that he did not intend to kill these patients.

Husel was not in court Tuesday.

Attorneys for the patients' families argued that there are depositions of nurses and pharmacists they would like to proceed with and thousands of records from Mount Carmel that they would like to inspect, including policies dealing with end-of-life care.

“But it’s being argued by defendants well we don’t want to start discovery until some unknown date at some unknown time. Public policy dictates that we begin to get some answers through civil discovery,” attorney David Shroyer said.

While Magistrate Ed Skeens did not rule, he appeared poised to issue a protective order rather than a stay on the civil litigation – hinting that it might involve a protective order that would prevent Husel from being deposed but would allow other players – namely nurses and pharmacists who administered and approved the medication orders.

Jack Burch, an attorney for Mount Carmel Health System, argued in support of a stay, saying:

“We ought to take a short pause and not do it right now,” he said. “Everything that needs to be discovered… is being preserved. Nothing is going to disappear it's all there.”

Mount Carmel Health System issued a statement Tuesday, saying:

Since learning of the deaths of patients under the care of Dr. Husel, Mount Carmel has been transparent when able to do so, and we have made changes to ensure nothing like this can ever happen again.

Mount Carmel is working with the families' counsel to resolve these matters fairly outside of the court process. If not successful, Mount Carmel has every intention to respond and will do so through the appropriate legal channels.

The legal request for a temporary pause is common when ongoing governmental and criminal investigations are occurring at the same time as civil lawsuits to protect the rights of all involved. We will honor any decision the court makes and will continue to cooperate fully with all legal investigations and proceedings. Mount Carmel stands by its commitment to doing what is right and fair for the families affected by these events. For more information about Mount Carmel’s previous statements and actions relating to this situation, visit the facts page on MountCarmelHealth.com.

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