The family of a University of South Alabama medical school student who died in a fatal car crash is suing a local neurosurgeon who was behind the wheel at the time of the accident.
Jonathan Pishoi Nakhla, a neurosurgeon formerly employed at Mobile Infirmary, was arrested and charged with manslaughter earlier this month after a single-vehicle accident on Aug. 1 killed Samantha Alison Thomas. Thomas, a USA medical school student from Madison County, was 24 years old.
According to police, Nakhla was under the influence of alcohol and driving his Audi R8 Spyder convertible around 138 mph in a 45 mph zone when it ran off the Interstate 65 service road and into a ditch that morning. Nakhla was taken to the hospital for minor injuries, but Thomas died at the scene.
Released on a $200,000 bond, Nakhla is currently awaiting trial in Mobile County. According to a spokesperson for the Infirmary Health System, Nakhla’s employment with Mobile Infirmary was terminated shortly after his arrest “in accordance with medical staff bylaws” set by the hospital system.
As the criminal case moves forward, Thomas’ family will also be pursuing a civil lawsuit against Nakhla. Court records indicate the victim’s father, Harold A. Thomas III, filed a lawsuit in Mobile County Circuit Court Wednesday morning accusing Nakhla of negligence and wantonness in Thomas’ death.
While most of the claims in the complaint are similar to information already released by local authorities, they do provide some new details about what allegedly happened before the fatal crash on Aug. 1.
In the document, the Thomases claim Nakhla had consumed “numerous alcoholic beverages” before the accident and had bragged that he wouldn’t get in trouble for drinking and driving because he’d been “issued a physician card by a police department.” It remains unclear what a “physician card” might be.
The complaint also gives some details about how the wreck that claimed Samantha Thomas’ life occurred.
“The wreck occurred around 12:41 a.m. when Nakhla’s vehicle ran off the road and collided with a concrete ditch dividing interstate 65 from the service road,” the complaint reads. “[It] then struck the guardrail — rolling six times along the guardrail — before striking a light pole, landing upside down and continuing from there before coming to an uncontrolled stop in a ditch.”
Nakhla’s being represented by Defense Attorney Dennis Knizley in his pending criminal case, but it doesn’t appear that he or any lawyer acting on his behalf has responded to Thomas’ lawsuit yet.
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