Local News

Thursday, Feb 07 2013 12:55 PM

Doctor denied new trial in suit against city, Hall Ambulance

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Dr. Mohamad Harb waits in the hallway of the Kern County Superior Court with his caregiver JJ Knight, left.

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BY CHRISTINE BEDELL Californian government editor cbedell@bakersfield.com

A judge has denied a request for a new trial in the case of a local doctor who unsuccessfully sued the city of Bakersfield and Hall Ambulance claiming they delayed his transportation to a hospital after he suffered a stroke.

The attorney for Dr. Mohamad Harb, Thomas Brill, said he will appeal that decision to the 5th District Court of Appeal in the next 30 days.

“I don’t understand what went wrong. It seemed like a strong case to me,” Brill said of the original jury verdict. “I’m just not seeing it from the jurors’ perspective. This is one of the most shocking results I’ve ever had, and I’ve been doing this for 26 years.”

The decision by Kern County Superior Court Judge J. Eric Bradshaw not to grant a new trial was the correct one, said Mick Marderosian, who represented the city in the case.

He argued there weren’t any trial errors and all sides had ample opportunity to present their cases. And there was no jury misconduct, Marderosian said.

“This trial, in my opinion, was a very fair trial,” he said. “Judge Bradshaw was very careful to be fair to all parties and was completely neutral.”

Last December, a jury quickly and unanimously found that police and the city were not negligent, and that a Hall Ambulance paramedic and his employer were not grossly negligent, when a delay occurred in transporting Harb to the emergency room in 2007.

Brill argued for a new trial Tuesday. He said Bradshaw shouldn't have allowed into evidence that Harb wasn't taking his medication, saying it was prejudicial and irrelevant since nobody alleged the city and Hall Ambulance caused Harb’s stroke.

Brill objected to the judge’s inclusion of some jury instructions and said the judge could and should ignore the verdict and find which side — the city or Hall — is negligent since the two sides pointed fingers at one another.

Harb suffered a stroke while driving his car after a day of work at the neonatal intensive care unit at Kern Medical Center.

After veering off of 24th Street, just west of Oak Street, urinating in the roadway and behaving erratically, Harb was handcuffed by police and allegedly denied immediate transport to a hospital emergency room because officers thought he was drunk or on drugs.

The Harb family also sued former Bakersfield police officer Claudia Payne and some Hall Ambulance employees.

Harb suffered devastating, permanent brain damage and needs constant care.

After Harb suffered a stroke around last September, Brill said, his family had to move him from his home — where he was being taken care of — to a nursing home paid through insurance.

Harb is ready to come home but his family can’t afford home care now, Brill said.

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