Patients’ lawsuits against fugitive spine doctor can proceed, Ohio Supreme Court rules

Patients’ lawsuits against fugitive spine doctor can proceed, Ohio Supreme Court rules
Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 12:02 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Lawsuits involving about 100 former patients of the fugitive spine surgeon Dr. Abubakar Atiq Durrani for negligent and unnecessary back surgery were revived by an Ohio Supreme Court ruling Tuesday.

In a 4-3 decision, the state’s top court ruled the cutoff date to file a medical malpractice lawsuit is extended if a medical practitioner flees the state within the four-year lawsuit deadline.

Durrani was indicted on federal criminal healthcare fraud charges related to his medical practice nearly a decade ago.

He is accused of performing medically unnecessary surgeries and then billing private and public healthcare benefit programs.

Durrani fled to Pakistan to avoid extradition back to the U.S. and remains a fugitive to this day.

Claims can’t be filed against medical providers more than four years after the alleged injury. Now they can when the defendant flees, the according to the majority court opinion, which cites the General Assembly.

It was written by Justices Michael Donelly and includes Justice Melody Stewart, Justice Jennifer Brunner and Fifth District Court of Appeals Judge W. Scott Gwin who sat in for Justice Patrick Fischer.

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor dissented without writing an opinion about why.

Justice Sharon Kennedy also disagreed but explained her decision.

State law regarding the statute of repose has three specific exceptions allowing cases to be extended and absconding, or fleeing, is not one of them, she wrote.

Tenth District Court of Appeals Judge William A. Klatt, sitting for Justice R. Patrick DeWine, agreed with Kennedy and joined her decision.

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