"The doctors' opinions were based on their examinations of the plaintiff, his history, and the statement of charges against him," the panel said. "This evidence, coupled with the plaintiff's deposition testimony, established, prima facie, that the plaintiff's Bipolar II Disorder and drug addiction were the primary causes of plaintiff's inability to practice his profession and that plaintiff's loss of his medical license was secondary."
The ruling affirmed a December 2010 decision by Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Randy Sue Marber (See Profile).
Jacobs, a prominent plastic surgeon on Manhattan's Upper East Side whose promotions said he had performed cosmetic surgery on at least two Playboy models, acknowledged that he began using crystal meth in 2001. He blamed his escalating use of the drug, plus Xanax and Fentanyi he prescribed for himself, with causing lapses in judgment that resulted in the filing of more than two dozen medical malpractice claims against him before his license was suspended.
He testified that in the six months before his suspension, he was sleeping little and was in a "fog" due to his use of crystal meth and anti-depressants to even out his mood swings and to keep him functional.
When suspending his license, state health officials also said Jacobs had used illegal drugs and had sex with patients.
Jacobs surrendered his medical license in September 2007, acknowledging after 11 days of hearings that he could not "successfully defend against acts of misconduct" alleged against him.
Heath Olnowich and Scott Markowitz of Markowitz & Rabbach in Melville represented Jacobs.
Olnowich called the ruling a "thoughtful, courageous" one that will serve as a "landmark" in the field of disability insurance jurisprudence.
"It serves notice to all insurers that they cannot just rubber-stamp a denial of benefits on the basis of legal disabilities, especially where mental illness and substance abuse claims are concerned," Olnowich said.