One of Ohio's largest malpractice cases grows

The complications of medical malpractice can go beyond personal injury and financial loss. Plaintiffs can also face obstacles in legal proceedings.

After filing an earlier malpractice action in Ohio, 40 patients filed a second federal lawsuit against a spinal surgeon, his attorneys and his insurer in federal court late last month. They alleged that these defendants helped the surgeon escape the country to escape one of the largest malpractice cases in state history. Over 450 plaintiffs in that malpractice case also filed a separate complaint seeking the removal of judges overseeing their state malpractice case against the surgeon.

The surgeon fled to Pakistan in 2013 after the issuance of a grand jury indictment and before his criminal trial on charges that he billed federal health authorities for hundreds of unnecessary surgeries. He was also facing civil complaints with possible damages of millions of dollars that also exceeded his insurance coverage. The attorney for most of the plaintiffs claimed that he is continuing to work and live in Pakistan. A warrant was issued for his arrest. However, the United States and Pakistan do not have an extradition treaty.

In the federal lawsuit, the plaintiffs charged that the defendants encouraged the surgeon's flight to cancel his liability insurance coverage and avoid payment of civil malpractice claims to his patients. The patients also claim that this complaint is bolstered by records of conversations between his attorney who allegedly encouraged him to flee to Pakistan.

The surgeon agreed to provide one deposition each month even though he could provide testimony through the telephone or video. At that rate, it would take forty years to depose for each of the plaintiffs' lawsuits. This could impact the $790,000 malpractice claim of one plaintiff and delay the resolution or coverage of other plaintiff claims, according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs also sought removal of the state court judges in their federal lawsuit. They claim that a state supreme court justice received campaign contributions from hospitals where the surgeon practiced and attorneys involved in the malpractice lawsuit. The county judge appointed to preside over the case was charged with taking orders from the justice.

An attorney can help malpractice victims deal with the numerous legal procedures and complications. They can also help assure that evidence is gathered, and their rights can be pursued in a medical professional negligence case.

Source: Courthouse News, "40 patients accuse doctor, insurers and attorneys of fraud & conspiracy," Matt Reynolds, Dec. 19, 2017

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