$16.5 MILLION DOLLAR VERDICT, LARGEST JURY VERDICT
June 14, 2013
Former Psychologist Ordered to Pay $16.5 Million
By Kristin StollerCollegian Staff Writer
A former State College psychologist must pay $16.5 million to his former patient — a sum that attorney Bernard Cantorna said was the largest in Centre County history — following a civil trial last week.Julian Metter faced a civil suit after a patient said she suffered emotional and physical harm from the psychologist’s use of carbon dioxide treatments. The jury reached their verdict Thursday night.
Cantorna, who represented the former patient, said the jury intended to send an important message through their verdict.
“The jury rendered this verdict so that the public could be warned about it,” Cantorna said. “The risk of his treatments poses serious injury and death to anybody who comes in his way.”
Metter said he was surprised by the verdict because he thought he communicated well with the jury.
“It was very disappointing and frustrating, but I came to understand that it was a very complex situation,” Metter said.
But Metter said he might seek an appeal of the jury’s decision. He said he also plans to re-evaluate his current suit filed against the former patient on the grounds of defamation of character.
According to a news release issued by Bryant & Cantorna law offices, which represents the former patient, Metter administered about 800 carbon dioxide treatments to the patient during their professional relationship. On at least one occasion, the patient stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated through CPR, according to the release.
During these therapy sessions, Metter told the patient she had been sexually abused, according to the civil complaint.
As a result of the “alternative treatments,” the former patient suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, brain injury, cognitive deficits and trauma, according to the complaint.
Metter did not face criminal charges in connection with the carbon dioxide treatments and chose to represent himself in the civil trial. He said the jury might have questioned his credibility because he was representing himself.
Metter was sentenced to prison in February 2011 for Medicare fraud and lost his license as a result, according to a press release issued by the United States Attorney General.
Metter was sentenced by United States District Court to a five-month term of imprisonment for making false statements in connection with health care benefit payments. Metter was also ordered to serve five months of home confinement, two serve two years of supervised release and to pay $13,423 in restitution, according to the release.
Currently, Metter is on parole and prohibited from engaging in treatment of any kind, Cantorna said. Though Metter is free to treat people after his parole, he will not be allowed to practice as a psychologist, he said.
Ultimately, Cantorna said the jurors wanted to warn the public not to return to Metter for treatment.
“If people are not made aware of this verdict, the unsuspecting and helpless might be caught in his web,” Cantorna said. “I’m honoring their verdict by trying to make that known.”