Former USC Doctor Agrees to Arbitrate Age, Disability Claims

Doctor, patient, medical

Photo: Getty Images

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A former USC doctor has agreed to have an arbitrator rather than a jury decide his allegations that he was "terminated by ambush"  in 2021, after nearly 30 years with the Keck School of Medicine, both because of both his age as well as a severe problem he had in using his hands.

Dr. Namir Katkhouda, described in his Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit as a "world-renowned surgeon, professor, researcher and author," was 66 years old when he filed the case last June 9, also alleging retaliation and that a failure by the university to accommodate his needs and engage in the interactive process.

Attorneys for the doctor and the university filed joint court papers on Thursday with Judge Mel Red Recana stating that the plaintiff wishes to have his case decided in binding arbitration, so the judge put the lawsuit on hold pending the outcome and scheduled a status conference for Oct. 20.

In their earlier court papers, USC attorneys stated that the case should be dismissed, in part because all or part of his claims were barred by the statute of limitations and that any having to do with physical and emotional injuries belonged in the workers' compensation arena.

But Katkhouda alleges he was never told he could be fired if he stayed on medical leave for too long and that USC did not try to find him work he could do with his disability.

"Instead, Dr. Katkhouda was terminated by ambush because of his disability and age and was unlawfully denied a good-faith interaction process and reasonable accommodations for his disability," the suit states.

Katkhouda was hired in 1993 as an associate professor of surgery as well as the chief of the Division of Minimally Invasive Surgery at County-USC Medical Center, achieving tenure as a professor of surgery in 2000, the suit states.

While at USC, Katkhouda was awarded multiple grants from the National Institute of Health as well as from Johnson & Johnson, the suit states. In 1997, he was bestowed knighthood in the French Legion of Honor by then-French President Jacques Chirac, the highest order for exceptional services rendered to France, the suit states. The honor was related to Katkhouda's work in laparoscopic surgery, the suit states.

In November 2019, Katkhouda was diagnosed with a medical condition that caused retraction of the tendons in his hands, forcing him to go on medical leave, the suit states. Two months later, Dr. Kamran Samakar, who was far younger than the plaintiff and had less experience, was appointed to Katkhouda's position as director of the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery program at Keck, the suit states.

Katkhouda kept USC up to date on his medical status while on leave and informed them that aside from performing surgeries, he was able to conduct research and teach, the suit states. He was told his statutory leave would expire on May 24, 2021, but was not told about the interactive process or that he would be fired if he did not return by then, the suit states.

Katkhouda was fired the next month by a provost who said the plaintiff was being stripped of his job because his leave exceeded a year and was not entitled to any formal termination proceedings, the suit states.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content