The surgeon and hospital Bill Paxton's family are suing for wrongful death are denying responsibility, claiming that the actor knew his surgery would be risky

By Mike Miller
May 03, 2018 08:28 PM
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The surgeon and hospital Bill Paxton’s family are suing for wrongful death are denying responsibility, claiming that the actor knew his surgery would be risky.

The Big Love star’s family and estate have accused surgeon Ali Khoynezhad and the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center of providing the actor with “negligent diagnosis, management, and treatment,” which they say led to the complications that resulted in the actor’s death last Feb. 25. He was 61.

But in an answer to the wrongful death complaint filed Thursday and obtained by The Blast, Dr. Khoynezhad and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center argued, “At all times … [Paxton and his estate] were aware of certain dangers and risks involved in the examination, diagnosis, operations surgery and medical care rendered to [Paxton].”

Furthermore, they claim Paxton and his estate were aware that the actor had “an existing condition” that made the operation more dangerous.

In their wrongful death complaint, Paxton’s estate made several allegations, all of which the surgeon and hospital denied in the answer they filled to the court. The estate claimed that Cedars-Sinai “misrepresented and/or concealed information relating to the risks of surgery and care that would be provided and/or failed to adequately explain the proposed treatment or procedure.”

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The family also claimed that the hospital “failed to disclose that [Dr. Khoynezhad] was going to use a high risk and unconventional surgical approach with which he lacked experience and which was, based upon information and belief, beyond the scope of his privileges.”

In addition, they alleged that Dr. Khoynezhad was “not in the hospital” when Paxton “began suffering the complications” and failed to arrange for “continuous care and coverage” for the actor while he was away. This, the lawsuit alleged, caused “a delay in treatment resulting in damage.”

As a result of the hospital and surgeon’s alleged negligence, Paxton had to undergo a series of procedures that ultimately led to his death ten days later, according to the documents.

“Bill Paxton and his family trusted the physicians and staff at this medical facility but instead Cedars-Sinai betrayed their trust,” said the family’s attorney Bruce Broillet in a statement. “The surgeon’s actions resulted in this tragic and preventable death.”

According to the statement, Dr. Khoynezhad left his position as a surgeon at Cedars-Sinai shortly after Paxton’s death. “We are pursuing accountability and justice from a physician and a hospital that failed to adequately protect Mr. Paxton,” said another attorney for the plaintiffs, Steve Heimberg.

Cedars-Sinai previously issued a statement regarding the lawsuit to PEOPLE: “State and federal privacy laws prevent us from commenting about patient care without written authorization.”

Bill Paxton (L) and son James Paxton
Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

“But we can share the following: Nothing is more important to Cedars-Sinai than the health and safety of our patients,” the statement continued. “These remain our top priorities. One of the reasons for our high quality is that we thoroughly review concerns about any patient’s medical care. This process ensures that we can continue to provide the highest quality care.”

Paxton died of a stroke last year after complications arose during heart surgery to replace a valve and correct an aortic aneurysm. According to the death certificate, the actor had surgery on Feb. 14 and died 11 days later, on the 25th, after suffering a stroke.

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“It is with heavy hearts we share the news that Bill Paxton has passed away due to complications from surgery,” a family representative said in a statement at the time. “A loving husband and father, Bill began his career in Hollywood working on films in the art department and went on to have an illustrious career spanning four decades as a beloved and prolific actor and filmmaker. Bill’s passion for the arts was felt by all who knew him, and his warmth and tireless energy were undeniable. We ask to please respect the family’s wish for privacy as they mourn the loss of their adored husband and father.”

Paxton had a lengthy career in Hollywood and was beloved for his roles in the films Terminator (1984), Aliens (1986), Tombstone (1993), Apollo 13 (1995), Twister (1996) and Titanic (1997) — and in 2012, the former star of HBO’s Big Love won an Emmy for his work in the TV mini-series Hatfields and McCoys.

The actor is survived by his two children, James and Lydia, and his wife of 30 years, Louise Paxton.