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Family Of Deceased “Apollo 13” Star Brings Medical Malpractice Claim

Bill Paxton, an actor who is widely recognized for his roles in “Apollo 13”, “Titanic” and “Big Love”, died unexpectedly, shortly after undergoing a surgery at a Los Angeles area hospital. His family has since brought a medical malpractice claim against Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and a surgeon, Dr. Ali Knoynezhad, who they claim are liable for his death. Paxton had a heart operation in 2017, which the suit claims was an improper procedure based on his condition. The family believes that his death was preventable and that the complications were worsened by the hospital’s inactivity.

Paxton’s attorney told the Star-Telegram that the defendants in the case had “betrayed their trust” and their actions led to a tragic and “preventable death”. Paxton apparently had an aortic aneurysm, which is a heart condition. Paxton had a stroke that occurred roughly 11 days after the procedure. The plaintiffs allege that Dr. Khoynezhad had inadequate experience to undertake a procedure that had such significant risks and employed a non-conventional method to address the heart problem. The claim also accuses the doctor and the hospital of seeking to conceal the true level of risk associated with the procedure.

Paxton underwent a modified Bentall operation, which is an aortic root replacement. The claim says the defendants demonstrated negligence in diagnosis, management, and treatment. Paxton’s complications included excessive bleeding, ventricular dysfunction, and cardiogenic shock, which is where the heart is not sufficiently pumping enough blood to the body. When the complications became apparent, Khoynezhad was allegedly not in the surgery center or hospital and failed to establish suitable coverage in his absence. This failure is believed to have created a harmful delay that furthered the damage.

The claim contains an abundance of allegations of negligence, including some of the following:

  • Inadequate evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of the condition
  • Failing to render suitable and complete treatment
  • An untimely response to a rapidly worsening condition
  • Failing to secure a needed medical specialist in a timely manner
  • Inadequacy in proper supervision of staff
  • A failure to obtain proper consent and disclose information
  • Failing to properly assess and determine competency of physicians and surgeons

An attorney for the plaintiffs says they are simply seeking to hold the doctor and the hospital accountable. Paxton’s death was formally attributed to a stroke. He was 61 years of age when he died and is survived by his wife and two children. The family says that Khoynezhad was no longer employed at the hospital shortly following the death and that he has not responded to requests for comment. 

The hospital declined to issue a statement–citing privacy laws. Dr. Peter Anastassiou of California Pacific Medical Center reviewed the details about the surgery and said the method used was a “less common way” but “within the realm of safety”. He clarified that the procedure tends to be considered as high-risk, but is clearly not “unconventional”.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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