Saudi doctors suing U of Ottawa

SEE VIDEO http://www.ottawasun.com/2012/01/30/saudi-doctors-suing-u-of-ottawa

Three doctors from Saudi Arabia are suing the University of Ottawa and several of its officials for more than $100 million.

The suit claims racial discrimination, conspiracy to injure, defamation, breach of contract, and negligence, among other allegations.

Dr. Waleed AlGhaithy, Dr. Khalid Aba-Alkhail, and Dr. Manal Al-Saigh announced they’ve filed a joint action on Monday.

“We think it’s justified,” said Aba-Alkhail.

“We hope that we can prove, as we’ve claimed, that we’ve been treated unfairly and that whatever happens with us will never happen to anyone else in the future, as a student.”

The lawsuit comes almost a year after the trio filed a human rights complaint against uOttawa alleging racial discrimination and intimidation.

“There were all sorts of comments and differential treatment towards these Arabic students,” said Mireille Gervais from the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa.

“This is indeed a systemic issue.”

According to Gervais, they were treated “in a demeaning way, in class, in front of peers, and it escalated to a point where they’ve all either withdrawn from the program or been placed on probation, in no way, pursuing their studies as they normally should be.”

Individual defendants affiliated with the Ottawa Hospital or the University of Ottawa Heart Institute include: Dr. Jacques Bradwejn, Dr. Paul Bragg, Dr. James Worthington, Dr. Eric Poulin, Dr. Thierry Mesana, Dr. Richard Moulton, Dr. Fraser Rubens, and Dr. John Sinclair.

An Ottawa Hospital spokesperson declined comment Monday, saying the matter is still under investigation.

AlGhaithy was a neurosurgery medical resident while Aba-Alkhail and Al-Saigh were specializing in cardiac surgery.

All three are not currently practicing.

They are still in Ottawa and have filed internal appeals.

“Waleed has been completely dismissed. He’s gone. He’s not a student anymore,” said Gervais.

He was four weeks shy of completing his program.

“It has been there for a long time, this dream to become a neurosurgeon,” said AlGhaithy, describing the situation as “difficult.”

“But (the lawsuit) it’s a must for me, and I think, for my colleagues. So it’s no option, and we had to proceed with it, but it’s stressful,” said AlGhaithy.

Lawyers Douglas Christie and Barbara Kulaszka are representing the doctors.

Gervais says the doctors have been “blacklisted” and likely will never work as surgeons.

The uOttawa media relations department did not return the Sun’s request for comment Monday.

@ottawasunkroche

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