Scott Plantz says it took 20 or 30 minutes for someone to ruin his life. It also took eight years. Those minutes were how long Richard Dellerson spent reviewing the medical records of a patient of Plantz's who died in 2007. Plantz, then the attending physician in the ER at St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., treated a woman who he determined had an abnormally enlarged thyroid, or goiter. He sent her home; she was dead within 12 hours. Dellerson agreed with the autopsy, which found the death resulted from the goiter impeding her windpipe. Plantz was in 2009 sued for medical malpractice. He could have settled for $50,000. Instead, convinced he had properly treated the patient, he decided to fight. "The decision would lead him on a decade-long odyssey that bloomed into an obsession," writes Josh Solomon for the Tampa Bay Times.
The now-58-year-old took issue with Dellerson, who was roughly 20 years his senior. To serve as an expert in an ER malpractice case in Florida, one needs to have provided ER treatment within the previous five years, among other qualifications. But Plantz learned Dellerson hadn't done so since 2001, and so Plantz filed a motion to have Dellerson disqualified and the case dismissed. The decision wouldn't come until 2017, and in the interim was craziness: an alleged punch, a 15,000-page case file, the $1 million and 18,000 hours that Plantz thinks he spent on the case. He was an absent father to his son; his marriage nearly imploded twice. And a medical condition forced him to retire in 2014. He was finally victorious, but at what cost? And what happens if an appeal is successful? "It's a sad waste of my life," says Plantz. Read the full story here. (Read more Longform stories.)