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Michael Jackson's dermatologist resists medical board-ordered exams

July 31, 2012 | 11:19 am

 Dr. Arnold Klein, center, with patients-turned-pals Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor in 2002.

A longtime Beverly Hills dermatologist for the late pop star Michael Jackson could lose his medical license after failing to undergo mental and physical evaluations ordered by the state medical board earlier this year.

A July 19 accusation — filed by Linda Whitney, executive director of the medical board — says Dr. Arnold Klein has yet to undergo mental and physical examinations ordered in May 2012. As a result, he is eligible for discipline because he failed to comply and showed unprofessional conduct in doing so, according to the documents.

The Medical Board of California began investigating Klein in February 2010, when an anonymous complaint was filed alleging that the dermatologist had "provided substandard and the inappropriate care and treatment to two patients," according to the document. The patients were not identified.

In May of this year, the board determined there was "reasonable cause" to believe Klein "was unable to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety," and ordered him to undergo the examinations by June 8, the document says. In a May 2 letter to Klein, the board warned the doctor that if he failed to comply within 30 days, he'd risk disciplinary action suspending or revoking his license.

The board set up appointments for Klein with designated physicians, the document said, and informed Klein's attorney of the plans.

Klein has since sued the medical board demanding to see the petition that prompted the investigation. The lawsuit, filed in Sacramento Superior Court on July 10, alleges that Klein and his attorney repeatedly requested the medical board explain why the examinations were ordered and did not receive satisfactory answers.

Klein has "reiterated his willingness to comply with the order," the lawsuit stated, provided he first has "an opportunity to assure that it was in fact lawfully issued and for good reason."

Klein's attorney, Joel Douglas, stressed again Tuesday that his client is willing to cooperate with the state but wants to know the "factual, evidentiary basis" for the mandate. Douglas declined to comment on Klein's health, saying it was "private."

"If there's some basis to say he's not fit, we're happy to look at that. We've got our experts and I'd imagine they have their experts," Douglas said. "But this is about an abuse of authority."

The 67-year-old Klein, whose Beverly Hills practice once earned him the nickname "dermatologist to the stars" for patients including the late King of Pop and Elizabeth Taylor, has experienced a series of setbacks in recent years.

At the 2011 trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, defense attorneys portrayed Klein as an enabler who fueled the singer's addiction with enormous doses of Demerol that had no medical purpose. After Murray's conviction, Klein acknowledged he was under investigation by the state medical board.

Klein is also facing possible imprisonment in ongoing bankruptcy proceedings. A trustee appointed by a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles has asked a judge to find Klein in contempt of court for failing to cooperate with his attempts to track down and sell the doctor’s assets to pay back creditors.

“Incarceration is the appropriate remedy if Dr. Klein remains in willful contempt” of court orders, lawyers for the trustee wrote in a July 2 filing.

Judge Richard Neiter has already given U.S. marshals permission to forcibly enter Klein’s Laguna Beach estate so that it can be prepared for sale. The doctor had refused to provide the trustee with access to the oceanfront property, valued at $12 million, according to court records.

The judge ordered Klein to appear in court next week with keys to the home and two others he owned as well as a list of the locations of a 2001 Ferrari Modena and other luxury vehicles.

Meanwhile, the owners of a Beverly Hills mansion where Klein is living while his Windsor Square residence is repaired are seeking to evict him for failure to pay the $60,000-a-month rent.


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Photo: Dr. Arnold Klein, center, with patients-turned-pals Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor in 2002. Credit: Gregg DeGuire / WireImage