CHARLESTON - A South Charleston man claims his doctor incorrectly diagnosed him with Crohn's disease and caused him to suffer a stroke.

Clifton D. Sowards says in a lawsuit April 4 in Kanawha Circuit Court that the malpractice of Walter J. Zajac, M.D. led to his permanent brain damage.

Sowards is also suing Kanawha Valley Gastroenterology Associates, while his wife Cathy is also listed as a plaintiff. She is suing for loss of society, companionship, consortium and services.

Zajac's listed address is in Sacramento.

Clifton Sowards alleges that he became a patient of Zajac's in Oct. 1996 when he complained of abdominal pain and bleeding from his lower gastrointestinal tract.

He says Zajac diagnosed him with Crohn's disease, which is a condition that causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. On Feb. 3, 2004, Sowards says he was correctly diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome.

But before then, Sowards says he was prescribed improper medications that included Vioxx.

Sowards says he suffered a cerebral stroke that resulted in permanent brain injury and impairment. He also suffered permanent damage to his kidneys, heart and neurological system.

He claims to have lost past, present and future wages as well as payment for his medical bills.

Sowards says his medical, drugs and hospital expenses were in the approximate sum of $50,000 and is seeking that amount plus future medical expenses.

The plaintiffs are represented by Frank M. Armada. Judge Tod Kaufman has been assigned the case.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-620

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