Wrongful termination of prison doctor results in $3.3 million verdict. Madera County.


Prison doctor of 15 years is fired and not told why; unanimous verdict on breach of contract against California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Plaintiff surgeon had treated females in two state prisons.

The Case

  • Case Name: Muhammad Anwar, M.D. v. State of California, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
  • Court and Case Number: Madera Superior Court/ MCV034056
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, November 08, 2012
  • Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, August 22, 2006
  • Type of Case: Employment, Wrongful Termination
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Dale J. Blea
  • Plaintiffs:
    Muhammad Anwar, M.D., 59, general surgeon
  • Defendants:
    State of California
    California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $3,300,000
  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 15 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 3 days.
  • Jury Polls: 12-0 on Breach of Contract, Breach of the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, and State Constitutional Due Process; 9-3 on total damages.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:
    McCormick, Barstow, Sheppard, Wayte & Carruth LLP by Michael F. Ball, Fresno.
  • Attorney for the Defendant:
    Oviedo Law Group, Inc. by J.R. Oviedo, Jr., Fresno.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff's Technical Experts:
    Jolene Fraser, CPA, Sacramento.
  • Defendant's Technical Experts:
    Susan Thompson, CPA, Fresno.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff, Muhammad Anwar, M.D., is a general surgeon. Defendants, State of California and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, provide medical services to inmates in California’s State prisons. Madera Multi Specialty Medical Group (MMSG) is a group of physicians in Madera County which was formed by Dr. Anwar for the purpose of negotiating medical specialty service contracts with the Defendants. MMSG’s physicians provide medical specialty services to inmates at two women’s prisons located in Madera County. These prisons are Central California Women’s Facility and Valley State Prison for Women. Written agreements exist concerning the provision of medical services to the prisoners in these correctional facilities. Dr. Anwar began providing services to Central California Women's Facility in 1990, and began with Valley State Prison for Women when it opened in 1995. Dr. Anwar then formed his MMSG (group of 30 - 40 specialists) upon the request of the state in 1998.

    On July 5, 2005, Sampath Suryadevara, M.D., the Chief Medical Officer of Central California Women's Facility, verbally told plaintiff that his surgical services to inmates of Central California Women's Facility were no longer needed. On August 11, 2005, plaintiff was verbally told by a representative of Valley State Prison for Women that notice had been received from defendants' offices in Sacramento that plaintiff could no longer provide surgical services to inmates of Valley State Prison for Women. MMSG still provides services to the two prisons. Only Dr. Anwar was excluded from providing further services.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That no reasons for the terminations were given; that plaintiff was denied due process by defendants. That he had a right to notice of the reasons he was terminated; further, that defendants violated not only the contract but also the implied contract of good faith and fair dealing.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That they never had any contract with Dr. Anwar, and thus did not owe him due process or fair procedure.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Loss of income; loss of opportunity to build a private practice outside of his prison work over 15 years.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $4,311,150 as calculated by plaintiff's expert through Feb. 2012/ $2,354,020 was calculated by defense expert for lost written contract time of July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2008.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $2,751,415

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff Demand during Trial: Plaintiff asked the jury for a minimum of $2.1 million for past wage loss.
  • Defendant Final Offer before Trial: Per plaintiff, defendants never made an offer, but at one point indicated that they had $150,000 in authority. Plaintiff’s demand was $1.3 million, with an indication that he would negotiate off that number.