Dr. Michael J. Katz an orthopedist regularly used as a Referee physician by OWCP on the East coast has come under investigation after his April 12, 2013 testimony in the labor law case of Manuel Bermejo (Bermejo vs. Amsterdam).
In addition to his examinations for OWCP, Dr. Katz is frequently hired as an Independent Medical Examiner, (IME) and “expert witness” by others and has testified he may make more than one million dollars per year from this business.
OWCP claimants often complain that the physicians hired by OWCP do not actually perform examinations and/or spend very little time performing the examination. Yet these physicians often produce wide-ranging reports containing opinion and results of tests never performed.
Although not an OWCP claimant, this was the case for Mr. Bermejo. Dr. Katz testified that according to his notes, his first examination of Mr. Bermejo lasted 45 minutes. Dr. Katz testified that his second examination of Mr. Bermejo lasted 10-20 minutes. Mr. Bermejo and his attorney, who attended the examinations, indicated Dr. Katz’ examinations lasted about five minutes.
For the second examination Dr. Katz performed on Mr. Bermejo, a secret video was made by Mr. Bermejo's attorney. The recording indicated Dr. Katz spent one minute fifty six seconds examining Mr. Bermejo.
Queens Supreme Court Justice Duane Hart, the judge in Mr. Bermejo’s case stated;
“He testified as to findings that he obviously could not have had in a minute and fifty six seconds.”
Justice Hart also stated;
“It is that the tape shows that he didn’t do the tests that he spent a considerable period of time talking about that he did. That is the perjury. Yes, didn’t do the tests. It is not just me saying it. It is not just the plaintiff saying it. The defendants are saying it too. Does your client really think if the insurance industry or some of the insurance companies that hired him before when they find out that he lied, do you really think they are going near him?”
This is not the first time a Justice has been concerned with Dr. Katz’ testimony. In a case in Brooklyn approximately a year before the Bermejo case, Justice Francois Rivera stated he was;
“Satisfied that this witness is less than forthcoming” and was concerned Dr. Katz was; “Materially misleading the court.”
In light of the information, Justice Hart declared a mistrial and ordered a new trial for Mr. Bermejo, scheduled for September 09, 2013.
On July 08, 2013 Dr. Katz did not show up for his appearance in court in front of Justice Hart
Justice Hart offered Dr. Katz the option of leaving his lucrative IME business. After Dr. Katz refused, Justice Hart sent the matter to the District Attorney with a recommendation perjury charges be filed against Dr. Katz.
On July 01, 2013, the court ordered the trial transcripts be forwarded for further investigation to the Queens Administrative Judge for civil contempt of court for perjury, to the Queens District Attorney for prosecution for perjury against Dr. Katz and referred Dr. Katz to the New York Department of Health to evaluate his capability to continue to practice medicine.
As of July 01, 2013, Dr. Katz continued to work performing examinations.
This is why it is so important to research the referee physician and when necessary, file complaints against the physician with OWCP. There must not be even the appearance of bias against the claimant in an OWCP-directed Referee examination.
You can read the July 08, 2013 transcript here: