BECKLEY, W.Va. (WVVA) It was a war of words inside a Raleigh County courtroom on Friday as attorneys fought over whether a class action lawsuit should be pursued against a physician and Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital (BARH).
Dr. Zouhair Kabbara and the hospital are the subject of a civil suit by multiple women and teens who say they were either sexually assaulted or harassed by the physician.
At Friday’s hearing on class action certification, an attorney for the women, Stephen New, said he believes the hospital knew of the inappropriate behavior by Dr. Kabbara, but did nothing to stop him.
“If they’re going to leave out a stalking claim by a 17-year-old volunteer, what else is it we don’t know yet? And they want to come in and say we haven’t met the numerousity requirement yet,” said New during the hearing.
New called the doctor a “violent sexual predator” with a pattern of behavior against at least nine different women.
Attorneys for BARH fired back during the hearing, saying the case did not meet two critical requirements for a class action suit — numerousity and commonality when it came to the infliction of emotional distress.
“Every single case is going to involve different witnesses, different facts, what they were going to do about. Every case is different,” said BARH attorney Ashley Pack.
In the end, Judge Darl Poling agreed, but did not close the door to a class action suit later on as the discovery process unfolds.
“The court is going to deny class certification based on the lack of numerousity and commonality without even addressing the remaining issues,” Judge Poling said in the ruling. “Mr. New, I will leave the door open as discovery goes on, that you have the right to re-certify the class.”
New said his law office will proceed with the case on an individual basis.
Meanwhile, Dr. Kabbara is the subject of another civil suit for sexual assault at Raleigh General Hospital that happened just weeks after his departure from BARH.