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Mont. Dem. Rob Quist Silent on Genital Herpes in Tax Evasion Case

Rob Quist, the Democratic candidate to replace former Congressman Ryan Zinke, refused to answer questions about his health issues highlighted by court records in a decades-old medical malpractice suit. The October 1994 lawsuit is a current issue because Quist used it as recently as March to excuse more than $27,000 in debts and property taxes that were not paid off until this year. He has also used his own medical history as an issue in the campaign, attacking the Republican health care bill.

When approached on these issues, Quist cancelled an interview. "Like most Montanans, Rob Quist believes a family's medical history should be private," the candidate's campaign spokeswoman, Tina Olechowski, said in an email to The Missoulian. Olechowski canceled a previously scheduled interview with Quist, pivoting from these privacy concerns to attack both the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the current Republican health care bill.

The health issues surfaced Tuesday, in a report by The Washington Free Beacon's Brent Scher. Sher reported on the medical malpractice suit filed in 1994 and dismissed in 1996, in which Quist sued surgeon Dr. Roch Boyer over an allegedly botched gallbladder operation.

On Monday, Quist's campaign announced he would launch a "Hands Off Our Health Care Tour" across Montana. In that announcement, the campaign declared, "After medical complications following surgery, Rob Quist got into debt. Quist paid off his debt, but he believes no one should ever face bankruptcy just because they get sick." The release also attacked the Republican health care bill, saying it would "end protections for pre-existing conditions."

In 1994, Quist sued for damages, arguing that Boyer's medical errors harmed his health, his career, and his relationship with his family. Among these harms, the plaintiff alleged that the malpractice derailed his music career, which he now says was "getting ready to pop" at the time.

But Dr. Boyer shot back, pointing out that Quist entered the procedure with a history of marijuana usage, a pre-existing genital herpes condition, a previous positive test for tuberculosis, and a past meeting with a marriage counselor where he discussed his "failing marriage."

Quist's lawyer Monte Beck objected to the use of this history. "Nothing in Rob Quist's case has anything to do with a pre-existing condition of genital herpes," Beck argued in a February 1996 filing. "The defendant is not entitled to discuss every personal, confidential, and private medical matter without the consent or waiver of Rob."

Beck went further, explaining that the plaintiff "has not placed his genital herpes condition at issue in this action, and therefore any testimony directed at his medical records should be striken."