South Dakota Lt. Governor a Defendant in Medical Lawsuit

The family of a woman who died after a series of surgeries has named Lt. Gov. Matt Michels in his role as an attorney for Avera Health as a defendant in a federal lawsuit.

Michels tells the Argus Leader that attorney-client privilege prevents him from discussing the lawsuit.

Frances Bockholt died in 2011 after more than a dozen surgeries, including spinal procedures. A state jury awarded Bockholt’s family nearly $1 million after finding spine surgeon Allen Sossan performed unnecessary surgeries.

The lawsuit says Michels undermined a medical committee at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital. It says Michels “misled” the committee by advising members that there wasn’t enough justification to deny Sossan hospital privileges.

It says Michels incorrectly told the committee that Sossan could sue the hospital for restraint of trade.