And that is perhaps what is most bothersome to me about this whole episode:not only were people jumping to “delusions” without the benefit of the facts, but more importantly, that the people leading the procession, were professionals, lawyers no less. I expected more from them.
What were the “litigation lawyers for the estate of Donda West and the surviving family members” trying to hide? What were they tryingto accomplish? Exactly how was their behavior protecting the interests of the estate of Donda West?
Let’s be honest, I understand some members of the family’s posture: they were ignorant of the facts. I even understand Stephan Scoggins: he was wrong, negligent, and protecting his butt. But what were the lawyers’s motives? You’d think they would want the truth told so that their client, the estate of Donda West, receives some justice, but apparently not. Kanye West, while famous for his music and rightly so, is also famous, or perhaps I should say infamous, for saying “President Bush doesn’t care about black people”. Apparently, neither do his lawyers.
The press wanted to blame somebody – the surgeon being the most obvious – for the death of Donda West, but everyone, it seemed, ignored the facts of the case. Donda West died at home, not the Brentwood Surgery Center. Donda West, it would seem, died as a result of gross negligence on the part of her nephew, an experienced nurse with an advanced degree. No sensible human being could arrive at any other conclusion. And, no sensible human being did Figure28.
Figure 28 is again the copy of the complaint sent to the Nursing Board of the State of California by the Los Angeles County Coroner. His office, the authorities in the case, knew quite well where to point the finger. Why is it that neither Harvey Levin, nor TMZ, nor anyone else in the media, shared that fact with their readers or viewers? Why is that? And more importantly why didn’t the City Attorney, the Medical Board of California, or any of the other authorities follow up on it?
Contrary to what the press, and the family, would have us believe Donda West’s care was appropriate and within the standard of care. All the hoopla, and all the meanness, was simply smoke and mirrors, a consequence of a dysfunctional press creating news rather than reporting it.That is why no suit was filed.
Mr. Scoggins didn’t point fingers at me at the time – no, he didn’t even express regret. He implicated the women with Donda West to whom he had abandoned her; women with neither the responsibility nor the training for her care.The first words out of Stephan’s mouth to me were, “Can you believe that there were three women in the house and none of them were with her?” Yes, Mr. Scoggins, the experienced nurse with the advanced degree, had already begun making sure no one evaluated his behavior in this matter. Even with me on the night of Donda’s death he was blaming Nubia, Diana, and Glenda, her best friend.
I cautioned him, “Frankly, we don’t know what happened here yet. We, you and I, are the only medical professionals here. Let’s don’t do things that are going to further hurt this family, your family. Let’s you and I be supportive.” I then walked with him to the nurse’s station to sign the death certificate.
The real answer, however, is that he was the medical professional contracted to care for her for the weekend and he wasn’t with her. He was negligent.
But let’s take a critical look at what the lawyers did:
Stephan Scoggins, with the help of attorneys, Mr. Brad Rose of Pryor Cashman in New York City and Edwin McPherson of Los Angeles, in my opinion, began to orchestrate a series of events to cover up Stephan’s involvement (Rose Letter).
I put a call into Rose to discuss the details of his letter. “First of all,” I said, “No one from our camp, meaning me, my employees, or the employees of Brentwood Surgery Center, had talked to anyone.” In fact, the first indication that anyone had even heard anything about it came Monday morning when we received a phone call from a plastic surgeon who had been called by the West family doctor over the weekend. We actually were in surgery performing a breast augmentation at the time of the call, and her inquiries were actually addressed to Larry, my scrub technician, not me.
I informed Mr. Rose that the information about Donda West was not coming from us and was in fact coming from his own camp. I also assured him that I had hosted a TV show on plastic surgery for five years and, believe me, there was no publicity-seeking behavior on my part.
I did, however, suggest that he should speak to Dr. Aboolian, who apparently, had appeared on an entertainment magazine show and read out loud her medical history from a consultation she had had with him a few months earlier. Mr. Rose at that time informed me that they had associates in the same building as Dr. Aboolian and that he had sent them down the hall to tell that doctor to cease and desist.
(Hmm…Here’s a question for you: If Mr. Rose had associates in an office in Beverly Hills, why did he need to retain Ed McPherson? Why did he need to do that? Why did Mr. Rose, representing the “estate of Donda West and the surviving family members” (his words), retain Ed McPherson to represent Stephan Scoggins?
If the Coroner’s assessment is correct, which it is, isn’t that a conflict of interest? Isn’t that playing both sides of the fence, especially with what he knew?)
At any rate, I followed up our conversation with a letter of my own (Initial Reply to Rose).
Part of my conversation with Mr. Rose was concerning my ability to respond to inaccuracies in the press. Being a brand attorney, he agreed that I had the right to defend myself and protect my reputation.
But that is when Mr. McPherson, who was hired by Rose, joined in the fray. I received a faxed letter at the CNN offices in New York City upon my arrival to Larry King Live, as I stated earlier. Mr. McPherson threatened that he had filed a complaint with the Medical Board of California demanding that I cancel the interview and that I had been warned not to participate in the interview by the Medical Board, itself. That was not true. I had spoken to no one at the Medical Board and in fact (I learned later) Mr. McPherson had violated the legal profession’s code of ethics by threatening action against my license. Besides, the Board has no authority to prevent a physician from conducting an interview. They can question whether the interview violated doctor-patient privilege, but they cannot compel someone not to talk. The point though is deception. Rose was saying one thing to me and using McPherson to impose the opposite. Now that is under-handed.
I explained to Larry King and his producers that these issues needed to be clarified. I also felt people wouldn’t be able to separate me from Donda West so soon after her death. We needed the coroner’s report first. In order for people to listen, they first needed to know what happened to her. And so, while we waited for the Coroner’s report, the press was able to spin its stories unchecked. All the while I was requesting of the lawyer’s releases to talk about the case. They wouldn’t budge.
However, Rose continued to suggest I had a right to defend myself; all the while the attorney he had hired was maneuvering legally to shut me up. I suggested to them that Dr. Aboolian had better have received the same notice. He didn’t.
I never really understood at first why they didn’t want me talking. I have discussed it with a number of attorneys, and anything I said on tape could ultimately be reviewed by them and used against me in a court of law. Their posture, however, was to generate as much negative press as possible without allowing me an opportunity to respond because of doctor-patient privilege. The last thing they wanted was for me to have the opportunity to show the facts. This was never going to court.
In my opinion, by helping Scoggins hide his involvement, his negligence in the death of Donda West, both Rose and McPherson have engaged in a conflict of interest and in a sense have harmed the estate of Dr. West, the client they were hired to protect.