Appeals court overturns spine patient's verdict, awards surgeon new trial


An Ohio appeals court on Sept. 8 overturned a verdict against spine surgeon Atiq Durrani, MD, and is granting him a new trial.

Teresa Nichols and Brad Nichols previously won more than $5 million in damages after a trial focused on Dr. Durrani's 2010 spine surgeries, according to a court opinion filed in Ohio's first appellate district. Ms. Nichols suffered Scheuermann’s kyphosis, disc degeneration in the thoracic spine and thoracic disc herniation.

Dr. Durrani suggested conservative treatment after Ms. Nichols' first surgery, but her relief was short term, and he performed a spinal fusion in 2012. In 2016, Mr. and Ms. Nichols sued Dr. Durrani and his practice, the Center for Advanced Spine Technologies, and the case went to trial in 2019.

Mr. Nichols alleged Ms. Nichols' condition worsened after the surgeries, and her pain continued and caused mental health problems. He also alleged Dr. Durrani was "often hasty" in discussing her condition. During the trial, expert testimonies alleged that Dr. Durrani's surgeries were unnecessary and that he "exaggerated or misrepresented his findings to justify surgery."

However, the appeals court opinion found "the trial court erred in admitting evidence of Durrani's license revocations, suspension of his privileges with various hospitals and insurers and other lawsuits against Durrani. Because these errors were prejudicial and impacted the outcome of the trial, we further hold that the trial court erred in denying defendants' motion for a new trial on these grounds."

One piece of evidence cited in the Nichols' opinion was a collage of testimony from Dr. Durrani that didn't cover any questions about the surgeries in question. In a similar motion in August, a video collage was among the reasons an appeals court reclaimed damages from another former patient of Dr. Durrani.

Dr. Durrani fled to Pakistan in 2013 after he was charged with performing unnecessary surgery on hundreds of patients.

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