Doctor's lawsuit against city, Hall Ambulance goes to trial

Doctor's lawsuit against city, Hall Ambulance goes to trial
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — A long-awaited civil trial began Monday in the case of a Bakersfield pediatrician suing the city of Bakersfield and Hall Ambulance.

Dr. Mohamad Harb suffered a stroke while driving and crashed his vehicle at 24th and Oak streets. But, instead of sending Harb to the hospital, his family claims police Officer Claudia Payne handcuffed and detained Harb, because she thought he was drunk. Payne allegedly turned the ambulance away.

"When someone suffers a stroke, as you have probably heard, time is of the essence," said Harb's attorney, Thomas Brill.

The attorney claimed medical aid was delayed for about half an hour as precious time was wasted, making the situation worse for his client. Harb had to undergo surgery and was left with permanent brain damage.

"He was sitting on the curb with his brain slowly bleeding and swelling," said Brill.

But the attorney for the city, Mick Marderosian, disputed that account. Marderosian said evidence will show police twice called for an ambulance. When the first ambulance arrived, the paramedic checked Harb and then left.

"(Officers) determined that the first ambulance should not have left the scene. That ambulance concluded that there was nothing medically wrong with Dr. Harb," said Marderosian.

"A second ambulance was called by the Bakersfield Police Department," he said.

The attorney further claimed that Harb had a history of high blood pressure and had suffered a previous stroke in 2004.

"He was told to take medication to control his high blood pressure, he was hospitalized and he wasn't taking that medication," said Marderosian. The attorney said Harb suffered a stroke so severe, it did not matter if Harb had been taken more quickly to the hospital.

Harb's medical history will be admissible in the civil trial.

Also named in the suit is Hall Ambulance. In a strange twist, the city of Bakersfield filed a counter suit against Hall Ambulance. Hall Ambulance is owned by Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall.

"We don't know whose telling the truth," said Brill.