A prominent Fresno heart surgeon dismissed his defamation suit against a man who accused him of leaving an open-heart surgery before his patient’s chest was closed but has the option to refile it later.
Dr. Pervaiz Chaudhry filed the dismissal on Thursday, and it was served to James Robillard on Friday morning, said Chaudhry’s attorney, Brian C. Leighton.
Leighton said the suit was dismissed without prejudice for strategic reasons. This is not the “ultimate decision,” Leighton stressed: Chaudhry can still file the suit at a later time.
Chaudhry sued Robillard and his Clovis company, Perfusion Associates of California, for $25 million in damages, alleging Robillard wasn’t even in the operating room when Silvino Perez’s chest was closed in April 2012.
On Friday, Robillard’s attorney, Peter Sean Bradley, said he wasn’t “at liberty” to comment about the dismissal, except to say: “It is quite rare for a plaintiff to dismiss their own complaint within three weeks.”
Chaudhry has said Robillard’s statements to state investigators cost millions for him and his partners at Valley Cardiac Surgery Medical Group.
Last year, Community Regional Medical Center was fined $75,000 by state regulators for the Perez case.
Chaudhry made headlines in January when Perez’s family accused him of leaving the operating room and CRMC before completing the open-heart procedure for the Sanger man. The suit contends Chaudhry left an unqualified physician assistant to close Perez’s chest. Because it was not done properly, Perez’s heart stopped, he continued to bleed and lose oxygen, and he had to be put on life support, the suit says.
As of last week, the 73-year-old man was still in a vegetative state in a nursing home, according to attorney Jeff Mitchell, who sued Chaudhry on behalf of Perez’s family members. In the wake of that lawsuit, at least two other people have sued Chaudhry, accusing him of walking out of the operating room before procedures were complete — and that hospital officials knew about it.