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    Friday, June 01, 2007

    Mea Culpa: The young lawyer with a highly resistant strain of tuberculosis who flew home to North America after being expressly told not to fly, hopes his fellow passengers will forgive him. He seems to think it's the CDC's fault:

    Speaker, 31, said he, his doctors and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all knew he had TB before he flew to Europe for his wedding and honeymoon last month. But he said he was told that he wasn't contagious or a danger to anyone. Officials said they would rather he didn't fly but didn't forbid it, he said.

    His father, also a lawyer, taped that meeting, he said.

    "My father said, 'OK, now are you saying, prefer not to go on the trip because he's a risk to anybody, or are you simply saying that to cover yourself?' And they said, we have to tell you that to cover ourself, but he's not a risk."

    Speaker, his new wife and her 8-year-old daughter were already in Europe when the CDC contacted him and told him to turn himself in immediately at a clinic there and not take another commercial flight.

    Speaker said he felt as if the CDC had suddenly "abandoned him." He said he believed if he didn't get to the specialized clinic in Denver, he would die.


    Ironically, he's a personal injury lawyer. Or maybe not ironically. It always is someone else's fault for personal injury lawyers, isn't it?

    Double irony, his new father-in-law is a CDC microbiologist who specializes in drug-resistnat tuberculosis. Don't blame him:

    "I wasn't involved in any decisions my son-in-law made regarding his travel," Robert Cooksey said in a statement issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    He says he did not act as a CDC official in any aspect of this case and is certain his son-in-law, identified as personal-injury lawyer Andrew Speaker, 31, from Atlanta, did not contract the disease as a result of his own contact with it.



    Fortunately, it is believed that his tuberculosis is in a stage which is not easily passed on to others. Although his doctors can be faulted for not insisting that he cancel his travel plans, it's pretty obvious that the blame lies with him in exposing even more people to his disease:

    Despite warnings from federal health officials not to board another long flight, he flew home for treatment, fearing he wouldn't survive if he didn't reach the U.S., he said. He said he tried to sneak home by way of Canada instead of flying directly into the U.S.

    Sneaking in through Canada. It worked!
     

    posted by Sydney on 6/01/2007 08:01:00 AM 10 comments

    10 Comments:

    Such narcissism.

    By Blogger Dr. Deb, at 12:36 PM  

    Geez, I don't know.

    He's an idiot, from the sound of it. Maybe my knowledge is based too much in 1950s imagery (think TB ward), but I'd think that if someone told me I had this, I'd be quivering in a corner, not getting on a plane.

    But that 'cover ourselves' DOES seem to give him an out....

    By Blogger bill, at 6:22 PM  

    So if a doctor tells you you're not a risk to other people, how is that "blaming it on others"?

    And unless he's filed suit in his own name, he's not blaming things on others. His clients are.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:08 PM  

    "So if a doctor tells you you're not a risk to other people, how is that "blaming it on others"?

    And unless he's filed suit in his own name, he's not blaming things on others. His clients are."

    He is a dirtbag of the first order and is trying to weasel out of the criticism he richly deserves for his bad conduct. The claim that he didn't know what he was doing or why is simply not to be believed at all. He knew; he just thinks that rules are for other people, not privileged personal injury lawyers.

    He is trying to smokescreen out the fact that he flew at least once, from Italy to Canada, after he was told in no uncertain terms that he must not do so (and why) and that he instead should report to Italian health officials for treatment. He admits himself he was in contact with his doctors who did tell him he was infected with a drug-resistant strain of MTB. He ignored that instruction, regardless of what he was told before he left the U.S. for Europe. So he has absolutely no excuse that he didn't know. He deliberately flew to Canada to avoid being intercepted in Europe as he was told he was put on the U.S. Homeland Security No-Fly list because of his known infection. He gambled, successfully, that the inept Canadian authorities would not request passenger ID before departure from Italy and order him held from flying.

    He deliberately and knowingly boarded the plane against specific instructions not to travel, engaged in subterfuge to avoid interception by U.S. authorities and was only able to enter the U.S. because of the ineptitude of a U.S. immigration controls agent at the land crossing from Canada (who was ordered to stop him, had detailed electronic instructions to detain him, go figure.) My guess is that he stood to be arrested had he not first presented himself to a hospital in New York.

    If he infected anyone, he should be held not just civilly liable, he should be criminally prosecuted. His behavior after the second warning is nothing less than moral turptitude of the kind that should cost him his bar certificate. As a "personal injury" lawyer, he ought to be familiar with the legal consequences of woefully reckless behavior.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:57 PM  

    Actually, he said his doctors told him that he was not a risk of infection to others, and they admitted they were just saying it to cover themselves.

    You may disagree with that, but neither of us were there, so unless there is a tape. . .

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:45 AM  

    The tape was of the first conversation, prior to his leaving the country. The patient was told not to fly in far stronger terms when he was in Europe because of the findings that the strain of TB he had was extremely drug resistant. He was told to report to health authorities in Italy for treatment. He did not follow these instructions. He was also told not to board another aircraft and in fact was told he would be prohibited from reentering the US by air by being put on the U.S. Homeland Security No-Fly list, which would cause him to be intercepted before boarding. He must have known how serious the authorities were that he comply so he sought a return route that would allow him to return to North America with the least chance at being intercepted on either end. He chose to go to Prague, take a Czech Air flight to Montreal, which was unlikely to have a manifest screening since the flight was not going to the United States. He then drove to the U.S. border where he was intercepted but, due to the pathetic ineptitude of the border agent, was not detained as ordered.

    He entered the country the way a terrorist or fugitive might. He certainly did not seem to care for the consequences to anyone he travelled with from the time he left Italy, including those fellow passengers on the Czech Air flight. He didn't give a damn about any of them.

    So don't say he didn't know how serious the issue was or that he didn't appreciate what he was doing or that he wasn't told not to travel by air, because that simply is not true.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:46 AM  

    He said he believed if he didn't get to the specialized clinic in Denver, he would die.
    Did he confuse Italy with a remote village in a third world country?

    So, he endangers people on Chech Air, many of which could be Eastern Europeans who are likely not even to hear about their exposure. Then he endangers more people on a flight to Montreal.

    If I were on any of these flights I'd be mad as hell.

    I agree with the poster who said if he infected anyone he should be subject to criminal persecution. I think that even if everyone involved tests negative, they should still sue him for unnecessary anxiety. He should also reimburse the government for the expense of testing and tracking people involved.

    By Anonymous Diora, at 12:42 PM  

    "He said he believed if he didn't get to the specialized clinic in Denver, he would die."

    So, did he understand that he was so sick he might die, or did he understand that he was not so sick that he posed any risk to others?

    A self-answering question - if you are a lawyer. He understood it both ways.

    Stella Baskomb

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:30 PM  

    Idiot

    By Anonymous Dara, at 10:23 AM  

    I think this is a bad doctor practic

    By Anonymous BelArt, at 4:03 AM  

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