A dermatologist who agreed to an $18 million settlement with the federal government over allegations he wrongfully diagnosed patients with cancer at his Port St. Lucie and Okeechobee practices, announced on Friday he is going to sue the whistleblower in the case as well as several media outlets.
Dr. Gary Marder addressed media only briefly during a news conference in front of the Palm Beach County Courthouse.
Marder made clear that the allegations against him are wrong.
“I have never, will ever do anything that will hurt them," Marder said. "Or ever do a surgery on something that was benign and say that it was cancer."
Gloria Strumalo, a former patient of Dr. Marder, begs to differ.
“We know better," Strumalo said Friday. "We know the truth."
Marder's attorney, Willie Gary, laid out the plan for a defamation lawsuit.
“To those in the media, to those who just outright lied: You’re going have to pay and we feel to the tune of half a billion dollars,” Gary said.
Gary said whistleblower Dr. Ted Schiff had given repeated false and defamatory statements that damaged Marder's reputation.
The lawsuit, which hasn't been filed yet, also names ABC News, NBC, Palm Beach Post, USA Today, New York Post and Perez Hilton for broadcasting and printing defamatory statements.
Gary didn't give any clear examples of falsehoods, except for saying that some outlets allegedly reported that Marder was not board certified.
WPTV, however, reported that Dr. Marder's medical license with the board is active.
Gary said during Friday's news conference his client didn't enter the $18 million settlement with the government because he misdiagnosed patients.
“There were some discrepancies with his billing system," Gary said.
When pressed if it is a normal sum to pay for mistakes in the billing system, Gary avoided the question.
“First of all it wasn’t 18 million dollars," Gary said, referring to the fact that Marder is allowed to resolve the $18 million settlement by paying $5.2 million early. “(The lawsuit) is not what we’re here about.”
Dr. Schiff, the whistleblower in the case, had informed the authorities after he saw numerous of Dr. Marder's patients in his office, looking for a second opinion.
“Sometimes we recognize patients just by the sheer number of biopsies they had done,” Schiff said early this month.
Gary said Marder is not suing because of what was in the original lawsuit but because of statements made by Schiff to the media.
"He has no right to make false statements, false innuendos and outright lies,” Gary said. “He lead this campaign.”
He did not give examples of which statements by Schiff were inaccurate.
When asked about disciplinary actions against Dr. Marder in the 90s by the medical board for allegedly billing insurance companies for procedures that were not performed, Gary declined to comment.
Strumalo claims Marder misdiagnosed her with cancer. She had undergone radiation therapy and surgery as a result.
On Friday, Strumalo said she was disappointed in the actions by Marder.
“It’s a disgrace," Strumalo said.
Dr. Marder's pratices remain open.