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Massive Malpractice Settlements Awarded in Runaway Surgeon Case

More than 300 patients of a Chicago surgeon who practiced in Indiana have been awarded damages in a pair of spectacularly huge medical malpractice suits, after nearly a decade of waiting.

Otolaryngologist Mark Weinberger, who called himself “The Nose Doc,” fled the country in 2004, when a flurry of lawsuits against him and his practice began hitting the courts, reports the Chicago Tribune. Weinberger disappeared from his $4 million yacht moored at a Greek island, leaving his wife behind, and for five years eluded capture until his 2009 arrest in the foothills of the Italian Alps.

Upon capture, the surgeon was sentenced to 7 years in federal prison on 22 counts of health care fraud, to which he pleaded guilty.

But the lawsuits against Weinberger didn’t wrap up until recently, when two multi-plaintiff suits were settled in the state of Indiana. During the last week of June, the courts awarded $55 million to a total of 282 former patients. And, in a separate lawsuit, the court awarded $8 million to 60 patients, plus $3 million in damages from the surgeon’s malpractice insurer, according to Medscape News Today.

The larger settlement is the most ever paid out in a medical lawsuit involving a single healthcare provider in the state of Indiana. Speaking to the Chicago Tribune, one attorney for some of the plaintiffs called the entire case “unprecedented,” and said that no one doctor has been responsible for as many cases as Mark Weinberger, who apparently used the profits from his operation to support an extravagant lifestyle.

The plaintiffs claimed that they had received unnecessary, assembly-line style sinus surgeries from Dr. Weinberger and his staff that sometimes made their health issues worse. There are still dozens of other lawsuits pending against Weinberger, and his insurance company, in federal courts.

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