CHARLESTON - A Kanawha County surgeon blames his rising medical malpractice insurance premiums on the insurance company that chose not to settle a claim.

Instead, the case went to trial where a jury verdict was handed down against Dr. Hatem Hossino, who is now suing Woodbrooke Casualty Insurance, Inc., in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Hossino filed the case Sept. 7, alleging that Woodbrooke's unfair settlement practices have led to problems finding an affordable malpractice premium.

"The defendant was aware that the case against Dr. Hossino was not defensible as to liability, had numerous opportunities to settle the lawsuit for a reasonable sum of money, refused to do so and exposed Hossino to embarrassment, mental anguish, emotional distress, excess liability, punitive damages and an unnecessary jury verdict," the complaint says.

Hossino performed surgery on a woman only identified in the lawsuit as "Jane Doe" on Aug. 27, 2002, and complications occurred that led to the suit filed against him.

On Sept. 9, 2005, a jury ruled in favor of the woman.

"As a further direct and proximate result of Defendant failing to settle the Jane Doe claim for a reasonable sum of money, Hossino cannot obtain medical malpractice insurance at a reasonable rate," the complaint adds.

Hossino seeks compensatory damages for the additional cost of insurance, emotional distress, mental anguish, embarrassment, annoyance and inconvenience. He charges the defendant with negligence, bad faith and unfair settlement practices as well as making a claim for punitive damages.

Michael Del Giudice of Charleston law firm Ciccarello, Del Giudice and LaFon is representing Hossino.

Judge Tod Kaufman has been assigned the case.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-1827

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