The terms of the settlement are confidential and, according to statements made in court, contingencies in the agreement won’t be finalized until August.
The flyer in question was sent to more than 14,200 Big Horn Basin homes in December 2010. It was made up of embellishments and flat-out fabrications of misconduct against Biles and told people to “beware” if he was their doctor.
The mailing claimed to be sent by a dissatisfied Biles patient named “Rita,” but was actually sent by Fallon, who has never met the doctor.
Fallon has claimed she acted alone in sending the flyer, but Biles’ attorneys have said her long-time friends, the Schneiders, had put her up to it. Dr. Schneider has been paying for her attorney in the case, Craig Silva of Williams, Porter, Day and Neville in Casper.
Dr. Schneider has denied being involved in the mailing, filing a response to Biles’ suit that accused Biles of being jealous of him.
But court records made public on Friday indicate that Biles’ attorneys have uncovered emails showing Schneider was involved in the mailing, and engaged in a potentially illegal effort to hide his involvement.
The discovery of the emails prompted the Schneiders’ attorneys, Laurence Stinson and Brad Bonner of Cody’s Bonner Stinson firm, to withdraw their representation of the couple, court records say.
In disclosing the information to District Court Judge Nancy Freudenthal on April 26, Bonner specifically cited a series of October-November emails in which Dr. Schneider provided Fallon with a bogus doctor’s note; Fallon was directed to use the note as an excuse to avoid testifying before Biles’ attorneys, Bonner said. Fallon had claimed at the time that she had a serious medical condition that prevented her from being deposed.
Biles’ attorneys, Bill Simpson of Simpson, Kepler and Edwards, Dan Fleck and Kristeen Hand of the Spence Law Firm, had argued at the time that Fallon did not have a serious condition and was simply trying to delay the deposition until the one-year of limitations on defamation suits had passed. Judge Scott W. Skavdahl had agreed with Biles’ attorneys that there was no need or verifiable information to postpone the deposition.
The emails, as recounted at the April 26 hearing in a transcript purchased by the Tribune, indicate the medical excuse was not bona fide.
When Fallon emailed Dr. Schneider to say her doctor was going to sign the note, Dr. Schneider reportedly responded, “That should be a 250K-plus payoff for your future. Thank you.”
Dr. Schneider also sent along an eight-page set of instructions explicitly telling her how to testify, Bonner said.
Schneider paid Fallon $5,000 a couple days before her deposition and $10,000 immediately afterwards, Fleck said.
“That is called a bribe,” he said.
Another email from Schneider said he was going to try to create a wild goose chase for Biles’ attorneys, Fleck said. Schneider, through Stinson, had filed a response denying any role in the mailing and made a series of new dramatic allegations of misconduct against Biles in the filing and a press release. He also countersued, accusing Biles of defaming him by suing for defamation; Freudenthal threw out Schneider’s countersuit last month.
In another of the emails, Fleck said Schneider asked Fallon to send her cell phone and hard drive so he could “give them the microwave treatment.” Micro-waving electronics can be a way to wipe them of information.
Fallon claimed her email-less computer had orange juice spilled over it, Fleck said, but an expert found no OJ. As for Schneider’s computer, that was “miraculously stolen” in Billings, Fleck said.
Biles’ attorneys obtained the emails from the Indiana hospital where Fallon works.
“This case is utterly and completely built on lies and deceit,” said Fleck at the April 26 hearing. “It has been deceitful from the minute it started until the end. What they (the Schneiders and Fallon) did to Jimmie Biles was atrocious and horrible. They used and manipulated this very court in what they decided to do and how they decided to abuse the process here.”
“It goes to the very, very heart and soul of everything we believe in as lawyers and everything we believe in as the justice system, and these people have proverbially given it the middle finger,” Fleck added later. “And I am just astounded by the whole thing.”
The details of the April 26 hearing were not publicly released at the time, but on Friday, Freudenthal overruled the objections of Bonner and Stinson and made the transcript public.
“The reasons proffered by Defendants do not justify depriving the public of access to the transcripts,” Freudenthal wrote.
Several entities had wanted copies.
Attorneys for West Park Hospital were among those requesting a transcript copy, saying they were “very concerned” about any allegations of criminal activity or misconduct. They noted the hospital’s interest in having ethical medical staff.
The Wyoming Board of Medicine also sought a copy, saying it has been investigating the flyer since early 2011 but has so far been unable to confirm who sent the document.
The facts of the cases “are highly relevant to the Board’s investigation into whether the Wyoming Medical Practice Act has been violated by one or more of the Board’s licensees,” wrote the board’s executive director, Kevin Bohnenblust. In addition to the flyers, the board is also investigating “several other matters” involving Schneider, Bohnenblust indicated.
The board suspended Schneider’s Wyoming medical license in January over allegations that an unsafe prescription of a pain patch contributed to one of his patient’s death, but reinstated it in March after Schneider took a class and agreed not to prescribe that patch anymore; the board also said it was investigating allegations Schneider had mischaracterized the surgery as an emergency so he could collect insurance.
Another party interested in a copy of the April 26 transcript was Weston W. Reeves, an attorney for Cody residents James and Martie Clark. Schneider is suing the couple for defamation, alleging they badmouthed him in the community, formed a hate group against him and cost him $7.25 million in lost patient revenue, according to court documents.
“Obviously, if there are other reasons for Dr. Schneider’s loss of income, it is critically relevant to our (the Clarks’) case,” Reeves wrote.
The Clarks, meanwhile, are suing Schneider for malpractice over a surgery on James Clark. Further, they say Schneider was behind an anonymous billboard, website and advertising campaign that appeared aimed at a Casper doctor, Robert Narotsky, who Biles was referring patients to.
Last week, Park County District Court Judge Steven Cranfill ordered the individual who designed the ad campaign to turn over the identity of her employer, says Reeves’ filing.
Reeves said Schneider has refused to discuss the billboard campaign. An employee at Schneider’s practice in Billings said he was not available late Monday and a message was not immediately returned.
An attorney’s disclosure of fraudulent or criminal conduct in a case is believed to be rare.
Bonner called it “an extraordinary and difficult circumstance” that he’d never witnessed before.
Fleck did offer some criticism of Bonner Stinson, noting the instructions and other documents were found in December and saying the disclosure was “a day late and a dollar short.”
Bonner, however, noted that the documents found in December were unsigned and never explicitly said who had authored them. It was only in the recent emails, provided to the firm on April 23, that they saw Schneider had indeed sent Fallon the documents.
“We could all surmise, but until then, we didn’t have the proof that we have now,” Bonner said at the hearing.
Bonner, who is a part-owner of the Tribune, told Freudenthal the Schneiders are actively seeking new attorneys. He said one of the doctor’s insurers may take up the defense.
Stinson and Bonner were allowed to withdraw from the case on Monday. Silva has not asked to withdraw, but has said he may.
At the April 26 hearing, Silva said he thought that going forward, Fallon “would ultimately have to take the Fifth Amendment on many of these issues because they have placed themselves in a very difficult spot.”