MSCA Legal Defense Fund

 

MSCA Legal Action Fund VICTORY!

Court Rules in Favor of Matthew White, D.C.

One of the biggest legal victories for the chiropractic profession in the state of Missouri since the Wilkes trial.

On June 15, 2009, the Boone County Circuit Court denied the Missouri Board of Healing Arts' motion to enjoin (stop) Matthew White, DC, from advertising the use of "chiropractic physiotherapy.” The Board of Healing Arts contended in their lawsuit that for anyone to advertise the term "physiotherapy," they would have to be a duly licensed physical therapist.

Had Dr. White lost this lawsuit, it would have meant that no chiropractic physician in Missouri would be able to advertise "physiotherapy.” Consequently, this could have led to the prohibition of reimbursement for "physiotherapy" services and the economic impact on practices throughout the state would have been devastating.

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Message From Dr. Matthew White

BOARD OF REGISTRATION FOR THE HEALING ARTS VS. DAVID MATTHEW WHITE, D.C.

How would you like a police officer to walk into your office and deliver a summons with the above statement written on it in front of your patients. I bet it would rattle you a little as it did me.

Before I give you a summary of how and what happen, I just want to thank the Missouri Legal action fund for supporting me financially and guiding me through this. Without them, I would have been dead in the water.

This is about a lawsuit that was brought against me over the use of using “physiotherapy” on my sign. It started with a complaint from a local PT. My wife and I have been practicing in Columbia for 24 years and had a PT work for us several years ago. After she moved we never replaced her. We added a chiropractor, and I just never got around to taking Physical therapy off the sign out front.

Apparently, a local PT complained because a private investigator came to the clinic asking all kinds of questions about PT, and looking all over the clinic. A few weeks later I received a letter from the Board of Healing Arts telling me it was illegal to advertise “physical therapy” and I needed to take it off the sign.

I call Dr. Hengel, president of the MSCA at the time, and talked with him. I also talked with the Chiropractic Board of Examiners. They got back to me in few days later and said that apparently physical therapy was a trade name and we were not allowed to use it but I could use “physiotherapy.” So on principle, and just being a pain, I knew it would irritate the PT, I put “physiotherapy” on the sign.

At this point I'm thinking this is no big deal. Several months later, I then received a letter from the Board of Healing Arts thanking me for taking down “physical therapy” from my sign but I could not advertise “physiotherapy” EITHER.

Again, I called Dr. Hengel and talked with the board. They were not happy about this; why have a Chiropractic Board of Examiners if the Board of Healing Arts basically ignores them and doesn't listen to them. They said they would call the board of Healing arts and clear it up.

A week later, they sent me a letter saying it had been cleared up. Several months went by and
that's when the police officer showed up at our door.

Dr. Hengel said I needed to immediately call Geordie McGonagle, an attorney who deals with a lot of litigation for chiropractors. I explained the whole situation to him. He said he would take the case. We had 30 days to respond, and hopefully a letter from him would clear it up. But if it didn't, and we ended up having to go to court, it could be very expensive.

The board disagreed, and so the process began. Dr. Hengel, Mr. McGonagle and Dr. Dolinar, of the MSCA Legal Action Fund, discussed the situation. The realization of what really was going on became apparent. Who would benefit if chiropractors could not legally advertise and ultimately not be able to use physical modalities; certainly not our patients! I have been told the PTs have one of the most powerful political action committees in the state and are very well funded.

THE BOTTOM LINE: if we lose this lawsuit, chiropractors in Missouri would not
be able to advertise “physiotherapy,” and insurance companies could stop paying chiropractors for any modalities. If you're like most chiropractors and use modalities, they probably account for 25 to 30 percent of your yearly income.

The Legal Action Fund came to my rescue and agreed to back me with the legal fees. Can you imagine a chiropractor on his own trying to defend this case? It would not have been pretty.

The next year and a half, it went back and forth. Reading some of the court documents at some of the hearings was almost comical. I mean pages of arguments over the definition of Physical Therapy according to the Webster dictionary! Mr. McGonagle had to get depositions from doctors at Logan and Cleveland; and just do a tremendous amount of work putting our defense together.

The case went to court June 1; and, on June 22, the court ruled in our favor. One of my wife's patients works for the court and came and told her it was a very heated argument between Mr. McGonagle and the other attorneys.

All of US chiropractors owe Mr. McGonagle and the MSCA Legal Action Fund a profound appreciation for what they do for our profession. This case had a cost well over $20,000; and, without them, would not have been possible. Again, think of the consequences if we had lost. At the upcoming convention, I encourage you to talk with the Legal Action Fund and also support them.

Here's a bit of irony. Dr. Dolinar was talking at a seminar about the Legal Action Fund and the successes and upcoming litigations. He was asking everyone for financial support. I asked later how many doctors actually send money monthly, and it was only a handful. My wife and I agreed to send $100 a month. That was two years ago. Six months later, this ordeal started.

This is just a brief overview of this whole situation and what we went through. If you are interested in reading the final judicial court summary, e-mail me at APHMail@centurytel.net.

This truly was a big win for chiropractic.

Sincerely,
Matthew White, D.C.

 


Legal Information on the White Case

 

Motion of Summary Judgement - White Case
 
Brief in Summary Judgement - White Case
 
Reply to Motion for Summary Judgement - White Case

 

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