“They were buddies, and they had a falling out and I think that really angered Dr. Biles, and this is what happens,” said Laurence Stinson, the Schneiders’ Cody attorney of Bonner-Stinson, in a Wednesday interview.
While denying involvement, the Schneiders also defended the mass mailing that disparaged Biles in the response, saying its allegations “are largely true” and “the allegations that may be untrue ... do not rise to defamation.”
The flier in question, mailed by Indiana resident Lisa S. Fallon to more than 14,000 households around the Big Horn Basin, told local citizens to “beware” of Biles.
The Schneiders’ response also unloaded a slew of new allegations against Biles to argue that he, as opposed to the flier, is responsible for negative perceptions about him and his practice.
“It’s a shame it had to come to this,” said Dr. Schneider in a Wednesday afternoon press release sent by a Billings public relations firm. “Dr. Biles has some personal demons to overcome, and I feel sorry for him. It’s sad to see a man lash out at others in a desperate attempt to salvage a career that is crumbling around him. I hope he is able to get healthy and in control again someday.”
One of Biles’ attorneys, Daniel Fleck of Spence Law Firm in Jackson, said Wednesday that legal ethics rules prevented him from responding to the Schneiders’ filing and release, though he said, “the facts will come out in the end.”
“Dr. Biles will continue to litigate the matter of Lisa Fallon and Dr. Schneider defaming him, and we will defend all allegations recently lodged by Dr. Schneider in response to being sued for defamation,” said Fleck.
The 2010 mailing accused Biles of committing crimes he’s never been charged with, of investigations by West Park Hospital and the Wyoming Board of Medicine — which both organizations say never happened — and claimed to be sent by a disgruntled patient named “Rita,” who doesn’t appear to exist.
In response to a September suit from Biles, Fallon admitted to sending the mailing, but denied it was defamatory. Fallon has testified under oath that she acted alone, but in a separate Dec. 7 suit, Biles’ attorneys claimed that John and Michelle Schneider, the godparents of Fallon’s youngest child, put her up to it.
In court filings, Biles’ attorneys, Fleck and Kristeen Hand, have said Fallon has acknowledged that John Schneider bought the list of addresses the flier was sent to and gave her disparaging misinformation about Biles, that Michelle Schneider’s money paid for the mailing and that the Schneiders are paying for Fallon’s attorney. The Schneiders denied those allegations in this week’s response and say that, since Fallon has testified she acted alone, Biles “knew” the Schneiders weren’t involved.
In January, District Court Judge Alan Johnson ordered the Schneiders to provide phone, email and other records to Biles’ attorneys, saying the information would help ascertain the truth as to whether they were involved in the mailing.
“Defendant Fallon did not have any close connections in the Park County area other than the Schneider family,” he wrote. Biles’ attorneys have said he’s never met her.
One of the defenses cited by the Schneiders is that there’s a qualified or conditional privilege to publish the information in the flier.
“Citizens of Cody, Wyoming and surrounding communities have a public need to know truthful information contained within the flier,” Stinson wrote.
The response said the allegations in the flier are “largely true,” since Biles “has been sued several times,” (the flier said he “has a dozen lawsuits that he lost”) did drink and drive and “has had poor surgical outcomes.” The response also accuses Biles of having unlawfully possessed controlled substances.
That accusation also was made in the flier, though in that document, it was falsely portrayed as a pending charge against Biles that could be found on the Park County Sheriff’s website. The flier also invented a charge that doesn’t exist — “lewd act with resisting arrest” — and said Biles was being investigated for a felony offense.
At the time, Sheriff Scott Steward described the flier as having apparently taken real booking information from a DUI arrest and then altering it “to include more serious offenses that never occurred.”
Outside of the October 2010 DUI arrest and subsequent guilty plea, Wyoming court records say Biles only has only a traffic citation.
Perhaps most significantly, the flier also claimed that the Wyoming Board of Medicine and Cody’s West Park Hospital had investigated or were investigating several complaints about Biles being drunk at work.
However, the Board of Medicine’s executive director, Kevin Bohnenblust, told the Tribune in December 2010 the board never had received any such complaints, and West Park Hospital officials took out a newspaper ad saying there was “no truth to the allegations in the letter about Dr. Biles’ behavior or care provided at the hospital.” Hospital officials also said they didn’t understand “why anyone would stoop to these levels in an attempt to single-handedly destroy a talented physician’s reputation.”
Schneider’s medical license currently is suspended in Wyoming, but he claims that while he was chief of surgery for West Park, he “received complaints of Biles taking care of patients while under the influence of alcohol.”
Biles, according to Schneider’s response, denied those allegation when Schneider spoke with him about them. Stinson said he didn’t know if Schneider ever brought those allegations to the attention of officials at West Park.
Biles is “himself responsible for negative public perceptions regarding him and his personality,” contend the Schneiders in the response.
The complaint then lists a litany of allegations of misconduct against Biles, some not referenced in the flier: including that he “often” drinks and drives, has practiced medicine while drunk, badmouths other physicians, waved a gun around his office and pointed it an employee and that he’s mismanaged his ranch.
Stinson said ethics rules prohibited him from discussing what evidence he has.
Biles previously referred work to Schneider, but stopped doing so years ago and later referred patients to a Casper doctor, Robert Narotsky.
Schneider’s response says that’s because their friendship fell apart over various disputes, including a falling out as cooperating surgeons that cost Biles money.
Narotsky described his relationship with Biles during a June 2010 deposition in an unrelated malpractice case in Park County’s District Court.
“Dr. Biles refers me patients, and Dr. Biles has been unhappy with the care that his patients have received from Dr. Schneider,” Narotsky testified. Narotsky said he had critized Schneider’s care to “as many as a half-dozen” patients who came to him.
In a recently-filed malpractice suit, James Clark of Cody contends that, after an unsatisfactory surgery from Schneider, he went for a consultation from Narotsky.
In court records, Clark says he later received an anonymous letter sent from someone named “Doug.” The letter, included in court documents, claimed Narotsky was being investigated by the federal government and “state of Wyoming board” for insurance fraud and unnecessary “re-do” surgeries.
Records show no disciplinary actions against Narotsky from the Wyoming Board of Medicine or any past or present federal charges.
Clark and his wife Martie have accused Schneider of having been behind the letter in court filings. Schneider denies sending the letter or committing malpractice. He is suing the Clarks for defamation, claiming they’ve untruthfully badmouthed him and formed a hate group against him.
Dr. Schneider’s response on Tuesday accuses Biles of having encouraged patients to sue him.
Schneider’s medical license was temporarily suspended by the Wyoming Board of Medicine on Jan. 28 while it further investigates allegations that he wrongly described a spinal surgery as “emergency surgery” and that his prescription of multiple pain medications — including one not intended for post-operative pain — contributed to the patient’s death later. Stinson said he had no further information on that case.
You can read Schneider's press release here.