Court: Dr Reddy’s Civil Suit Over Arrest Begins

May 29, 2017

Dr Mahesh Reddy[Written by Don Burgess]

Calling it a “campaign of unjustified actions,” a civil suit against the Bermuda Police Service began in Court today [May 29], as Dr. Mahesh Reddy seeks redress.

Dr. Reddy is the chief medical officer at Bermuda Health Care Services, a clinic owned by former Premier Dr. Ewart Brown.

He was arrested and his home was searched by the BPS on the morning of May, 19, 2016.

Lord [Peter] Goldsmith QC and law firm Trott & Duncan represented Dr. Reddy in front of Chief Justice Dr Ian Kawaley.

The QC said the case is of fundamental public importance on what are the limits of the police power to deprive individuals of liberty and violate the privacy of their homes.

He said the basics of the case focus on the restraints on the discretion of the police to arrest summarily; If there are restraints, then did the police comply with those restraints; and a third question is what are the remedies to be ordered.

Dr. Reddy is seeking first that the arrest and the search was unlawful; secondly, thirdly, that all the items seized from the search be returned to him; and an order that he is no longer on bail; and finally, damages for unlawful arrest and violation of his privacy.

The QC said “the lawfulness of the search is parasitic to the lawfulness of the arrest.”

In laying out his client’s case, Lord Goldsmith said the inquiry by the BPS into Dr. Reddy began in 2012.

The QC pointed out that a complaint to the Bermuda Medical Council was brought against Dr. Reddy in 2013 by a dismissed employee that he was doing unnecessary diagnostic tests among other things. He said the Bermuda Medical Council found no evidence that was happening.

In the intervening years, Dr. Reddy was stopped three times at airports; twice in Bermuda and once at JFK when he claims a US Homeland Security agent intimidated him in January 2016.

Lord Goldsmith quoted from Dr. Reddy’s affidavit saying the Homeland Security agent asked about “alleged health care fraud at BHCS demanding to know about unnecessary diagnostic tests” that Dr. Reddy ordered and “suggested that Dr. Brown had orchestrated the alleged fraud and had ordered” Dr. Reddy to have the unneeded tests done.

Quoting Dr. Reddy, the QC alleged that the agent told Dr Reddy to put testimony against Dr. Brown, and if he refused and returned to Bermuda, he would be arrested, jailed and, deported back to his native country of India.

He goes on to state that Dr. Reddy was told there might be adverse consequences if he didn’t supply testimony against Dr. Brown.

Lord Goldsmith said this “plainly had to come from the Bermuda authorities as the US Homeland official could not have made up these suggestions for himself nor would he have been in any position to say that if you go back to Bermuda you will be prosecuted. Only the Bermudian authorities could say that.”

The QC said this was “egregious” to threaten Dr. Reddy in the manner that was alleged to have been done.

“It’s one of the factors that connects this tragic episode with the position Dr. Ewart Brown. It’s common knowledge that there is an inquiry into Dr. Brown, who is, of course, part owner of the clinic where Dr. Reddy is working.”

The Chief Justice said he does not see how the court can properly make any findings in the nature of the sort seem to be inferring from this, that the Bermuda Police appeared to have enlisted the assistance of an US law enforcement agency and, this in some way, should be found to have influenced the decision to arrest Dr. Reddy.

The Chief Justice admitted he could see why the applicant would want to complain about this, but the court has to be very circumspect about to what extent to be carried away by “matters that are very peripheral and, somewhat, speculative.”

The QC replied the JFK incident may lead one to question what lies behind why that happened.

Dr. Reddy retained US counsel to meet with the US Department of Justice. His US lawyers learned about the investigation of the alleged  over-utilization of CT scans by both BHCS and the Brown-Darrell Clinic, another facility owned by Dr. Brown.

He said the DOJ lawyers later reviewed documents and held a meeting with his counsel.

Quoting Dr. Reddy, QC Goldsmith said they “found no evidence I had been pressured by anyone, specifically by Dr. Brown to order diagnostic tests that were not appropriate by a medical perspective.”

The DOJ did not take any action against Dr. Reddy after that meeting and review.

The QC said “that’s the second occasion that the matter has been looked at. First by the Bermuda Medical Council, then by the Department of Justice in the United States and no further action was taken in either case.”

He added that this is significant because the Lahey Clinic is involved with these tests and if the DOJ had thought there was some wrongdoing going on they would have taken action.

Going back to arrest on May 19, 2016, the QC stated he hoped to persuade the Chief Justice that the arrest and the search were unlawful.

He said that “there was no consideration and if there was consideration, it was irrational for a summary arrest by six or eight police officers.”

He said the fact that there were so many police officers present, the BPS planned on searching Dr. Reddy’s home. If they were planning on searching his home, they should have gone to the judiciary to get a search warrant ahead of time.

The QC said the raid on Dr. Reddy’s home saw the police search the purse of a lady friend who was visiting, a search of his wallet and subsequently writing down his credit card numbers and about certain medications Dr. Reddy was taking.

“When the Police are conducting a search, conducting an arrest, they do have to respect the individual’s privacy and the individual’s dignity,” said Lord Goldsmith.

He said some of the items removed from his home include five patients’ files, a US hospital health book bearing a patient’s name and various other documents, as well as a tablet and computers.

Dr. Reddy in his affidavit said he felt the BPS “were seeking to intimidate him; they seemed to delight in embarrassing him, asking intrusive, offensive, irrelevant questions of a personal matter.”

Lord Goldsmith said Dr. Reddy “felt shame in this mortifying experience. He says that is one of the worst days of his life and the raid has had a profound impact on his emotional and psychological well-being.”

He added that Dr. Reddy felt it was an effort to intimidate him into providing evidence against Dr. Brown.

The hearing continues.

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