A lawyer who accused a black surgeon of lying to his patient in a high-profile malpractice case is now recanting his statement.
For two years, Dr. Ricardo Quarrie, a heart surgeon, has been shunned by the medical profession. In 2016, he was one of the surgeons named in a well-publicized lawsuit against Yale New Haven Hospital. Not only had surgeons removed the wrong rib from a patient, but, the suit alleged, Quarrie tried to cover up the mistake by saying “not enough rib” had been removed, prompting the second operation.
Quarrie, who was a cardiothoracic fellow at the hospital, told CNN he was effectively a “pariah” in the medical community after the story came out.
Now, New Haven, Conn., attorney Joel Faxon admits that Quarrie never made that statement to his client.
“The statements attributed to Dr. Quarrie were made by another health care practitioner at the hospital or his designee,” Faxon wrote in a statement dated July 16, 2018. “I hope this letter clarifies any misunderstandings.”
Faxon represented Deborah Craven, who underwent the botched surgery in 2015 where the wrong rib was removed. She had to have a second procedure the same day so the right one could be taken out. Quarrie assisted in the surgeries.
The botched operation would have been bad enough, but Quarrie was called out by name in the suit for lying to the patient about the cause for the second procedure. The story went viral—as did Quarrie’s name—effectively trashing the surgeon’s reputation. Attorney Faxon also drew attention to Quarrie in interviews about the case, calling his actions “just plain deceitful.”
“Employers told me I was very qualified for positions, but patients Google their doctors, and they didn’t feel like they could refer patients to me,” Quarrie told CNN.
In his July statement, Faxon said he believed the false statements about Quarrie were true when they were made in March 2016, but “information uncovered in the course of the litigation’s discovery phase demonstrates inaccuracies in those statements.”
During that discovery phase, his client accused two other Yale staffers — a physician’s assistant and a different doctor — of lying to her. She said she didn’t even speak to Quarrie about her surgery.
CNN asked Faxon why he thought Quarrie had been responsible for the alleged coverup when his own client, just a few months after his television interview, said explicitly that Quarrie was not the staffer who had misled her.
This raises another question: If Craven admitted in 2016 that she never even spoke to Quarrie about the surgery, why is Quarrie’s name only being cleared now?
When CNN reached out to Faxon for comment, he said he was unable to speak due to a confidentiality agreement with Yale.
While Quarrie’s name is officially cleared of wrongdoing, the 36-year-old father of two acknowledged he still has a “long road ahead” when it comes to clearing his name. Because the false accusations against him went viral, those stories could still come up at the top of search results when people Google his name.
A search engine optimization (SEO) expert who spoke to CNN said that stories about the lawyer recanting “won’t have the same SEO ‘juice’” as the negative stories about Quarrie published years ago.
Essentially, the stories clearing Quarrie’s name would have to be just as bountiful—and go just as viral—as the negative press did for him to have a chance.
Quarrie described the entire ordeal as a “nightmare,” saying he considered leaving medicine because of it, despite wanting to be a heart surgeon since he was six years old.
While he hopes the recanted story changes things, “that’s two years of my life I can’t have back,” he said. He still has no idea why he was even accused in the first place.
He also told CNN that he won’t be filing a lawsuit against Faxon; it was part of the condition of getting Faxon’s statement recanting the accusation, he said.