Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Dr. Alfred Bonati of Bonati Institute in Hudson must pay $12 million

HUDSON — A Pasco County spinal surgeon whose patented techniques have resulted in numerous malpractice lawsuits over the years has been ordered to pay nearly $12 million to a couple who claimed a series of unnecessary operations left the husband unable to walk.

Dr. Alfred O. Bonati, who owns the glass-walled Bonati Institute near U.S. 19 in Hudson, could also be on the hook for more money, as an arbitration panel agreed that the case warranted punitive damages.

The decision, issued Saturday, stemmed from a lawsuit filed in 2004 by William and Gloria Clark, who alleged that the doctor duped the couple into performing eight unnecessary, expensive and increasingly dangerous surgeries on William Clark — which left him unable to walk eight years later and in constant, agonizing pain. Clark, now 71, is a retired General Electric executive who first came to Bonati in 2002 complaining of back pain. Bonati's practice charged him nearly $175,000 for services, according to court papers.

The Clarks, who were from Pensacola, now live in Kentucky.

"He's permanently disabled," said Tampa attorney Steven Yerrid, who represented the Clarks. "He might be able to go a short distance with a walker. His movements are mainly relegated to scooters and wheelchair."

The case ended up before a three-member arbitration panel because Bonati required Clark to waive his right to a jury trial at the time he was treated, Yerrid said.

Bonati and the Clarks each chose one panel member. The third member, former chief judge James Case of the 6th Judicial Circuit, was chosen by the other panelists. The same panel will consider punitive damages.

Bonati's representatives did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Yerrid said Bonati attributed Clark's problems to his 1999 diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. Yerrid acknowledged the disease but maintained the surgeries were to blame.

Bonati, who has no hospital privileges, has been the target of lawsuits since the early 1990s. Many originate from the same attorney, Gary Roberts of West Palm Beach, prompting Bonati's spokesman to accuse Roberts of having a vendetta.

In 1996, Roberts won a $3.5 million judgment against Bonati and his Hudson medical practices. A 29-year-old Hernando County woman told the jury that Bonati and his clinics performed unnecessary and risky surgeries in a scheme to collect insurance money.

The jury found against Bonati, but the doctor declared bankruptcy during the trial. The judgment was later overtured by a U.S. magistrate who said it was "grossly excessive and without support in the evidence."

The Hernando woman's complaint and a number of other malpractice claims against Bonati ended in 2001 with an $8 million court settlement. The doctor admitted no liability, and his patients dropped their complaints.

In the meantime, the Florida Board of Medicine investigated numerous complaints against Bonati. He reached a deal with the board in 2002 that let him continue to practice under the supervision of another surgeon.

That ended in 2005, and the Florida Department of Health said the doctor has fulfilled all his obligations to the state.

Last year a Michigan woman sued in federal court, saying he performed 13 surgeries on her in seven months and kept her at a private condominium for six weeks after a botched operation.

Bonati's representatives said he and his staff have successfully performed 35,000 operations during the course of his practice. His Web site includes testimonials from patients praising his work.

Bonati is the founder of the Bonati Institute, a practice that specializes in minimally invasive back surgery. Bonati's Web site says he uses patented tools and techniques for outpatient operations that require local anesthesia.

A check of any pending complaints shows Bonati's record is clear, and his license is active.

Lisa Buie can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 909-4604.

Dr. Alfred Bonati of Bonati Institute in Hudson must pay $12 million 02/04/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 4, 2010 9:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Armwood pulls away to defeat Plant 27-7, remain undefeated


    SEFFNER — First-year Armwood coach Evan Davis pulled out all the stops to get his team psyched for Monday's annual grudge match against Plant.

    Armwood defensive end Malcolm Lamar (97) gets fired up before the start of the game between Plant High School Panthers and the Armwood High School Hawks in Suffer, Fla. on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.
  2. Clearwater police: Car thief dead after owner fires gun


    CLEARWATER — One man is dead after the owner of a car fired shots at the thieves who were stealing it Monday night, police said.

  3. Iraqi forces sweep into Kirkuk, checking Kurdish independence drive


    KIRKUK, Iraq — After weeks of threats and posturing, the Iraqi government began a military assault Monday to curb the independence drive by the nation's Kurdish minority, wresting oil fields and a contested city from separatists pushing to break away from Iraq.

    Iraqi security forces patrol Monday in Tuz Khormato, about 45 miles south of Kirkuk, a disputed city that the government seized in response to last month’s Kurdish vote for independence.
  4. Trump and McConnell strive for unity amid rising tensions


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, tried to convey a sense of harmony Monday after months of private feuding that threatened to undermine their party's legislative push in the coming weeks to enact a sweeping tax cut.

    President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell field questions Monday in the Rose Garden of the White House. “We have been friends for a long time,” Trump said.
  5. 'Me too': Alyssa Milano urged assault victims to tweet in solidarity. The response was massive.

    Human Interest

    Actor Alyssa Milano took to Twitter on Sunday with an idea, suggested by a friend, she said.

    Within hours of Alyssa Milano’s tweet, tweets with the words “me too” began appearing. By 3 a.m. Monday, almost 200,000 metoo tweets were published by Twitter’s count.