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This story was originally published in the WV Record by Chris Dickerson.
CHARLESTON – A $23 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit over a Charleston gastroenterologist who allegedly sexually abused about 2,500 female patients has been given preliminary approval.
Kanawha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey gave the preliminary OK during a December 15 hearing for former patients of Dr. Steven Matulis at Charleston Area Medical Center’s endoscopy suite. The final hearing is scheduled for March 10.
The $23.1 million proposed settlement only covers claims against CAMC involving medical malpractice, and that amount represents insurance coverage limits for such claims. Sexual harassment and third-party discrimination claims still are part of a pending case, and claims against Matulis and Charleston Gastroenterology Associates still are pending.
Dante diTrapano, one of the plaintiff’s attorneys in the case, declined further comment because the litigation is ongoing.
In 2108, Matulis was convicted of first-degree sexual abuse for abusing a patient while that patient was under anesthesia. He was sentenced to 1-5 years in prison. Along with jail time, Matulis must pay $10,000 in fines and register as a sex offender, and he faces five years of supervised release.
Matulis, CAMC and CGA also have been named in a number of civil lawsuits.
Matulis was accused of inappropriately touching patients while they were under anesthesia for procedures. When the investigation began in 2016, his medical license was switched to inactive.
The plaintiffs claimed they were alerted to news reports that Matulis was being investigated for touching a patient during a colonoscopy and that his privileges to practice medicine at CAMC had been suspended and then terminated as a result of the allegations. They claimed Matulis had been witnessed by CAMC staff to have been sexually assaulting female patients during colonoscopies.
The civil suits allege Matulis’ actions were a deviation from the applicable standards of care and were an invasion of privacy. The suits also alleged that CAMC and CGA deviated from the standard of care.
The class members are being represented by a host of attorneys including diTrapano, David Carriger, Ben Salango, Marvin Masters, Rob Berthold and Rod Jackson. Matulis is represented by Isaac Forman. CGA is represented by Jack Kessler. CAMC is being represented by Lee Murray Hall and Heather Heiskell Jones.
Categories: Firm News, Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury