A former Indiana surgeon captured in Italy in late 2009 after more than five years on the run is preparing to face trial on allegations that he failed to diagnose lung cancer in a patient who died from the disease.

Mark Weinberger’s trial is scheduled to begin Monday in Lake Superior Court in Hammond, where he faces a civil lawsuit alleging negligence in the 2004 death of former Valparaiso resident Phyllis Barnes.

Attorney Kenneth Allen sued Weinberger on behalf of Barnes’ family in October 2004. The suit alleges that Weinberger’s medical negligence caused Barnes’ death.

“This is the first civil case that was filed against Weinberger and the most important because in a sense it was the reason he left the country” in 2004, Allen told The Times of Munster.

He said Barnes, who was suffering a raspy throat and nasal problems, went to Weinberger after seeing a billboard promoting his Merrillville-based business.

“She went there for a diagnosis and got unnecessary surgery and delay. He never diagnosed her cancer,” Allen said.

Barnes was 50 when she died on Sept. 16, 2004, due to lung cancer.

Weinberger was captured on an Italian mountainside Dec. 15, 2009 — 5 1/2 years after he disappeared during a family trip to Greece. A guide on the mountain tipped off authorities the former Merrillville doctor was living in a tent with high-tech survival gear.

Weinberger pleaded guilty last October in federal court to 22 counts of health care fraud for billing almost two dozen patients’ health care providers for surgical procedures he did not perform, according to court records. He is scheduled to be sentenced in that case on April 27.

Weinberger also faces more than 350 state medical malpractice suits, as well as a federal lawsuit filed by his malpractice insurance provider. That insurance provider claims Weinberger breached his contract when he became an international fugitive, therefore making him liable for the hundreds of malpractice cases.

The federal lawsuit and most of the state medical malpractice suits are still pending.



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