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Pakistani Student Sues Cloquet Hospital, Doctor

Updated: 03/28/2014 7:48 PM
Created: 03/28/2014 5:11 PM WDIO.com

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The family of a Pakistani student who made headlines earlier this year because he faced possible deportation while receiving medical care after a serious car accident is now suing a northern Minnesota hospital and the doctor who treated him in the emergency room.

A lawsuit filed Friday on behalf of Muhammad Shahzaib Bajwa claims a doctor at Cloquet Community Memorial Hospital didn't quickly ensure that Bajwa's airway was unobstructed. As a result, the lawsuit says, Bajwa suffered permanent brain injury and brain damage.

The lawsuit names the hospital and Dr. Peter T. Olsen as defendants. It alleges Bajwa is permanently injured and disabled as a direct and proximate result of Olsen's negligence.

"Dr. Olsen's failure to timely establish and ensure an adequate airway was a direct contributing cause of permanent anoxic brain injury and damage," the lawsuit says. It seeks damages in excess of $75,000 to cover medical care and treatment.

It also says Bajwa has endured pain, disability and emotional distress, as well as lost wages and a reduced earning capacity in the future.

A message left with the hospital chief executive wasn't immediately returned Friday. A message was also left with Olsen, who was not in the office Friday.

Bajwa was injured Nov. 13 when the car he was riding in struck a deer. His injuries included severe head and facial trauma, and he was in a coma for months.

At the time of the accident, Bajwa was enrolled in a fall semester exchange program at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

As his student visa was expiring in February - and Bajwa was still in a coma at Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth - family members said hospital officials were pressuring them to agree to Bajwa's return to Pakistan. Pakistan's consul general from Chicago, Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, said in February that U.S. officials agreed on a visa that would allow Bajwa to stay, and that the insurance carrier for Bajwa's exchange program agreed to cover up to $90,000 of his expenses at a long-term care facility in the Duluth area.

The lawsuit says Bajwa is currently receiving long-term medical care in St. Louis County. His brother declined comment Friday, and his attorney did not immediately return a message seeking comment about Bajwa's condition.

An online fundraising campaign to help cover Bajwa's medical costs had raised more than $146,000 by Friday.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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