Ohio Supreme Court Decision Ends 200 Lawsuits
On December 23, the Ohio Supreme Court issued a ruling that ends 200 of more than 500 lawsuits filed against a former Cincinnati surgeon accused of performing unnecessary procedures on patients. The court’s opinion states the law “clearly and unambiguously” prohibits someone from bringing a medical claim “more than four years after the occurrence of the alleged act or omission that forms the basis of the claim.”
Dr. Atiq Durrani, who operated under the Center for Advanced Spine Technologies, was indicted in 2013 on dozens of federal charges, including allegations that another surgeon operated under his name, allowed his staff to write pre-signed Oxycodone prescriptions, knowingly left surgical equipment inside a patient, and billed health care benefits programs for millions of dollars in fraudulent services.
Dr. Durrani, a native of Pakistan, was arrested in July 2013. Soon after he pled not guilty to the charges, he fled the United States.
The Supreme Court’s decision, which impacts hundreds of medical malpractice lawsuits against the fugitive spine doctor, states that the 200 cases in question were filed too late—the Ohio statute of repose states such cases cannot be filed after four years have passed from the date of a surgery.
The Court stated in its opinion that “had the General Assembly intended the saving statute to provide an extension of the medical statute of repose, it would have expressly said so.”
After Butler County juries returned verdicts in Durrani’s favor in early trials, plaintiffs began dismissing their lawsuits and refiling them in Hamilton County where they believed juries would be more sympathetic to their interests. But by the time some cases were refiled, it had been more than four years after the alleged malpractice.
Both defense and plaintiff attorneys with knowledge of the matter have called the decision one of the most significant healthcare cases to come before the Ohio Supreme Court in decades. In a statement, attorneys of the Taft law firm said the decision was a victory for Ohio physicians, hospitals and health care providers.
The Durrani lawsuits have been in waiting for eight years, and only 40 out of over 500 cases have gone to trial. The court’s decision will not only end hundreds of cases against Dr. Durrani, but will affect many other pending medical malpractice cases as well.