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Lawsuit against spinal surgeon Alfred Bonati claims he caused paralysis

HUDSON — Dr. Alfred O. Bonati, the Pasco County spinal surgeon who has been the target of numerous malpractice lawsuits over the years and who recently was ordered to pay nearly $12 million to a Kentucky man, is being sued again, this time by a dentist who said she was left paralyzed.

Kathy and Norman Scott of Missouri said in a 47-page complaint filed Thursday in circuit court that Bonati's Nov. 5, 2007, operation on Kathy Scott caused complications that included hemorrhaging and an inability to move her lower extremities.

"Despite all of this, Scott was not transferred immediately to an acute care hospital or an intensive care setting but rather was kept in a recovery room of the Bonati Institute all night," the complaint said.

Bonati is the founder of the Bonati Institute and 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 spokesman for Bonati could not be reached for comment Friday. However, the doctor's spokesmen have said previously that the lawyer who filed this suit and several others, Gary Roberts of West Palm Beach, has a personal vendetta against Bonati.

Bonati reportedly called an ambulance but told Norman Scott that although he could transfer his wife to a hospital, "he did not think it was necessary and in fact, he recommended more surgery," the lawsuit said. It alleged that Bonati "coerced" Norman Scott to sign a waiver allowing him to remove the packing material that was "necessary to prevent death."

A second surgery was performed Nov. 6. Afterward, Bonati told Scott that she would be better off not going to a local hospital because of a staph infection epidemic there and instead would be better off at a local motel, according to the lawsuit, which also said the statement about the staph epidemic was not true.

Kathy Scott was housed at a Comfort Inn until about Nov. 21, when she was taken by ambulance to an airport and flown by Learjetto a Kansas hospital, the suit says.

An exam several months later by a Missouri neurosurgeon noted that she had sustained '"an incomplete spinal cord injury.'' Kathy Scott continues to experience "a marked and profound" loss of movement in the lower extremities, and loss of bladder and bowel control among other complications, the lawsuit said.

It accuses Bonati, who has no hospital admitting privileges, of "secretly warehousing" patients at local hotels or condos to "cover up" surgical mistakes.

Roberts made a similar claim last year in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Stacy Mahan, a Michigan woman who said Bonati performed 13 surgeries on her in seven months and kept her at a private condominium for six weeks after a botched operation in 2006. That case is pending.

The latest lawsuit seeks at least $100,000 in damages and names Bonati, his companies, his staff, nurses, as well as Maxim HealthCare Services, a private nursing company.

Bonati, whose state medical license is active, was ordered by an arbitration panel in February to pay almost $12 million to William and Gloria Clark of Kentucky, who alleged in 2004 that the doctor convinced the couple to allow eight unnecessary, expensive and increasingly dangerous surgeries on William Clark that 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. The panel is considering punitive damages. The Clarks were represented by Tampa attorney Steven Yerrid.

Lisa Buie can be reached at buie@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4604.

Lawsuit against spinal surgeon Alfred Bonati claims he caused paralysis 04/16/10 [Last modified: Friday, April 16, 2010 8:52pm]
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