James Kohut sued by former patient


SANTA CRUZ — The former Santa Cruz neurosurgeon who now sits in jail accused of multiple counts of child rape now has new legal woes.

A former patient is suing James Kohut, alleging that he installed the wrong size screws into his neck during a surgery in October 2016.

The case was filed in Santa Cruz County Superior Court on Jan. 3 by Wendell Driver.

Palo Alto Foundation Medical Group, Inc., Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Dominican Hospital were also named in the suit.

Driver’s attorney Stewart Tabak said that the screws Kohut installed were too long, and went through the bone. They have since caused numerous problems with the nerves and vessels in Driver’s neck, Tabak said.

Several doctors are currently trying to fix the problem, according to Tabak.

In the aftermath of the surgery, Driver has been forced to consider quitting his job, Tabak said.

Tabak declined to name a financial figure Driver is seeking, but said he hopes for “whatever the jury feels is adequate based on what he has gone through.”

The case is not the first time Kohut has been accused of negligence. In 2006 he was sued for attempting to remove an aneurism from the right side of a patient’s head, when X-rays showed the site was on the left side, court records showed.

He was also accused of incorrectly charting the site of a spinal surgery in another patient’s records.

Kohut’s license was revoked in that case, a decision that was stayed when he successfully completed a three-year probation term.

That included undergoing a clinical training program at the San Diego School of medicine and a psychiatric evaluation. He also paid more than $9,500 in costs.

Kohut now faces 48 felonies for child sex crimes. Some of these stem from a video discovered in September that depicts sex acts that include a 5-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy, court records show. He is being held in Santa Cruz County Jail in lieu of $7.5 million bail.

Kohut’s alleged co-conspirators Rashel Brandon and Emily Joy Stephens face similar charges.

He is currently prohibited from practicing medicine in California until the case is resolved. His license in Arkansas is suspended.


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