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“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
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George Talbott's Abuse of Dr. Leon Masters MD
Currently, at the Talbott Recovery Center in Atlanta, GA, Dr. George Douglas Talbott, an admitted "recovered" alcoholic, runs a rehab clinic that specifically targets other doctors and medical professionals who have been forced into his treatment program by a state review board or professional society. His practices bear uncanny resemblance to the operational ways of Straight Inc. and The SEED rehabilitation centers. The same web of patient abuse behind closed doors has now has official sanction as a governing agency watchdog with coercive control over medical professionals’ licenses through "monitoring" and investigation. History reveals that his program makes doctors and nurses commit suicide.
"At least 20 doctors, nurses and other
health professionals who have gone through the Ridgeview Institute's nationally
acclaimed treatment program over the past 12 years have killed themselves since
leaving the hospital."
— Atlanta Journal Constitution
In May, 1999, George Talbott stepped down as president of ASAM as a jury awarded Dr. Leonard Masters, of Jacksonville, Florida, a judgment of $1.3 million against Talbott, his daughter-in-law, and several associates.
The judgment addressed malpractice, fraud, and false imprisonment that occurred during Dr. Masters' stay at Talbott's treatment facility in 1994.
A judge co-owned the Talbott-Marsh Recovery Center with the former ASAM president. Judge Marsh court-ordered “impaired” persons to “treatment” in the Talbott-Marsh Recovery Center. She also ordered records sealed that reported past addictive behaviors of those deemed “cured” by Dr. George Talbott. Talbott-Marsh Recovery Center is now Talbott Recovery Center (or sometimes called Talbott Recovery Campus) because Judge Marsh dropped out of TMRC because of the abuse allegations, and thus her name was dropped from the official name of the facility.
Dr. Talbott was known for severe abusive behavior which was implicated in the suicide deaths of many medical professionals under his “monitoring” program.
The ASAM president was found guilty of human rights abuse against medical professionals entrusted to his care in rehabilitation or substance abuse treatment facilities. Dr. Talbott was found to have targeted medical whistleblowers for brutal psychological violence at the treatment center.
The abuse of Dr. Masters was chilling in 1994.[i] [ii] [iii] Testifying against Talbott at the Masters' trial was Anne Geller, a past president of the ASAM before Talbott. [iv] The degree to which Talbott was able to intimidate witnesses was evident at the Masters' trial. For their own protection, witnesses were not identified in the court record by name and the court record was afterward sealed to prevent leaks to the media and public.
Masters' attorney, Eric S. Block of Jacksonville, said, “No one ever accused him of having a problem with alcohol. Not his friends, not his wife, not his seven children, not his fellow doctors, not his employees, not his employers, No one.” Dr. Roger Goetz, then-director of the Physicians Recovery Network (PRN), a branch of Florida's Department of Professional Regulation, accused Dr. Masters in 1992 of excessive narcotics prescriptions for his chronic pain patients. Goetz told Masters that he could surrender his medical license until allegations were disproved or submit to an extensive evaluation at Anchor in Atlanta, GA. Goetz was a recovering alcoholic who had been treated at the Atlanta facility and who sent many other physicians there. Masters went to the facility. Instead of merely being evaluated, he was “immediately immersed into treatment,” was diagnosed as “alcohol dependent” and was enrolled in the Talbott recovery program. He was released four months later, in May 1992, and forced to sign a five-year “continuing care” contract. His professional reputation and career were tarnished. While he was enrolled in treatment, Dr. Masters' employer, the Family Care Partnership, fired him. Dr. Masters was forced to stay in the Talbott recovery program because “if any doctor dared to dispute the team's diagnosis, if they wanted to leave and go home, or even consent to get treatment in their home state,” Talbott recovery personnel “would threaten to report that doctor to his or her state board of medicine ... as being an impaired physician, leaving necessary treatment against medical advice.”
During Masters’ treatment at Talbott Recovery Center (TRC) there was a lack of medical supervision. Medical charts were signed off by TRC doctors that the patients never met. None of the other patients dared to interfere to stop the abuse because of possible punishments such as extensions of stay, loss of privileges, or increased cost of additional laboratory or clinical studies billed to the patient. Talbott himself, as a witness, was not believed by the jury and his testimony helped Masters’ case. An agent of the state's medical group, PRN (Physicians' Recovery Network) had originally sent Masters to TRC because he was alleged to have written too many narcotic prescriptions, not because of drinking. When TRC could not find a problem with his prescribing narcotics for his patients nor with taking them himself, they finally coerced him to admit to drinking each evening and said he could not leave until he completed treatment for substance abuse.
At TRC (Talbott Recovery Center or Campus), all new patients joined right in with mandatory A.A. meetings and there was indoctrination into A.A. with insistence that the patient loudly confess to being an alcoholic. This submission to the “power of the group” began on admission, before the four day evaluation was completed. In other words, it was a foregone conclusion that you were going to stay or lose your license because you started right out with treatment. The TRC program allowed no visitors unless you sign up for the family program (which the client pays additional money for). No weekends away from TRC unless the group approved and then only 2 or 3 weekends in four months. There was no permitted reading of recovery material that was not A.A. /12-step, no reading of medical journals allowed. If a client was suspected of making of close friends while in the program, this would immediately result in forced separation. Failure to participate in A.A. meant expulsion from TRC and the anticipated result would be loss of one’s medical license. [v]
George Douglas Talbott faced no professional repercussions for being found guilty of human rights abuse against Dr. Masters and many other “clients.” No changes in treatment protocols were made to prevent further human rights abuse. There emerged instead discussion as to how to legally and legislatively protect the ASAM organization from another lawsuit in the future. Talbott continues to present himself and ASAM as the most qualified medical advocates for treatment of “impaired” medical professionals.
[i] Date: 05-12-1999 Case Style: Dr. Leonard Masters v. Dr. G. Douglas Talbott, et al.
Case Number: 94-14004 Judge: Clarence F. Seeliger Court: Superior Court, DeKalb County, Georgia
Plaintiff's Attorney: Eric S. Block, Jacksonville, Florida and Harold D. Corlew, Atlanta, Georgia
Defendant's Attorney: Milton B. Satcher, III of Long, Weinberg, Ansley and Wheeler, LLP, Atlanta; Kimberly L. Woodland of Love & Willingham, Atlanta, Georgia for Talbott and Georgia Alcohol & Drug Associates; and Joseph C. Parker of Downey & Cleveland, Marietta, Georgia represented Dr. Barry Lubin.
Description: Medical malpractice, false imprisonment, breach of fiduciary duty and fraud claims by doctor who claimed that he was held in an alcoholism recovery program he claimed he didn't need. Dr. Masters claimed that defendants coerced him into rehab treatment at the Talbott-Marsh Recovery Campus in College Park, Georgia under the threat of losing his medical license. He claimed that what happened to him cost him his career. Plaintiff was earning $160,000 a year in 1991 and terminated by Family Care Partnership while he was in treatment. He never was able to earn the same income again and retired in 1994.
Outcome: Plaintiffs' verdict for $1.3 million in compensatory damages.
Plaintiff's Experts: Dr. Anne Geller
Defendant's Experts: Unknown
Comments: This case was reported to have been settled before the jury returned its verdict on plaintiffs' punitive damage claim.
[ii] Ursery, Stephen, ”$1.3M Verdict Coaxes a Deal for Doctor's Coerced Rehab,” Fulton County Daily Report, May 12, 1999.
[iii] Ursery, Stephen, “I Was Held Illegally in Alcohol Center, Doctor Charges,” Fulton County Daily Report, April 27, 1999.
[iv] Williams, Dave, “Doctor wins his lawsuit; Says hospital misdiagnosed him,” The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, FL), May 25, 1999, City Edition, METRO; Pg. B-3, Schaler.net, Schaler.net, http://www.schaler.net/talbott.html.
[v] Fornits.com, “Doctors report treatment abuse at Talbott Recovery Center,” http://www.fornits.com/wwf/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=9595&p=102930
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