Man Files Lawsuit Against Norton Healthcare For Losing Part Of His Brain

Last year, a man went in for surgery at the Norton Cancer Institute and ended up leaving knowing a lot. He knew enough to file a lawsuit against Norton Healthcare as he states that the company lost a piece of his brain.

According to the Courier-Journal, 72-year-old Fred Habermel went in for surgery at the Norton Cancer Institute in mid-July of last year. The surgery was done to extract some brain tissue that would be used to develop a vaccine.

That vaccine was going to then be injected back into Habermel’s head and used in an experimental procedure to fight a brain tumor. Unfortunately, that never could happen because the facility lost that sample of his brain.

WKYT reports that the lawsuit states it was a few weeks after the surgery that Habermel and his wife, Dru, were called back into the institute. Dr. Ali Choucair advised the couple to come back in as soon as possible.

Once back in his office, Dr. Choucair told Habermel and his wife that “employees, agents, or servants” from Norton had lost the brain tissue sample extracted from the patient’s head.

Attorney Gary Weiss filed the complaint for Habermel and his wife.

“I can see losing a blood sample, but how do you lose brain tissue?” Weiss asked. “I can’t imagine worse negligence.”

It’s been almost a year since the procedure was done at Norton and Habermel has survived, but his prognosis is said to be quite grim. With the lost piece of his brain tissue, he could not receive the experimental treatment to help fight the brain tumor.

Thomas Johnson is a spokesman for Norton, and he refutes the claims made by Fred Habermel and his attorney. Johnson states that the brain sample from the patient was never actually lost.

“We have documentation of that sample leaving our facility and arriving at the outside laboratory,” he said. “The focal point of this case is around specimen labeling protocol, and that is what will be decided in court.”

Johnson went on to say that in October of 2013, Habermel was diagnosed with a glioblastoma brain tumor, which is said to be highly malignant. A month later, he underwent brain surgery for the first time to remove a segment of the tumor and that was followed by close to 30 rounds of radiation.


When the treatments were proven to be unsuccessful, North Healthcare recommended he take part in the experimental study, which would mean another surgery was needed. Johnson even said that Habermel is still in Norton’s care at this time.

After the second surgery, Dr. Choucair advised the Habermels that the brain sample had been lost, per the lawsuit.

Weiss claims that there is not enough of the affected tissue left in Habermel’s brain to undergo the sample extraction surgery again. Norton does state that Habermel did not have to pay for the second surgery.

For now, the fight will be going to court over the alleged lost piece of Fred Habermel’s brain for which he blames Norton Healthcare. The family merely hopes that he is able to outlive the trial and pending result.

[Image via Wired]