MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) A doctor charged with manslaughter in a fatal car wreck previously bragged about a “physician card” that would allow him to escape responsibility for violating traffic laws, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.
The civil complaint, filed in Mobile County Circuit Court, asks for unspecified damages against Dr. Jonathan Nakhla. Police say Nakhla was intoxicated when he sped along the Interstate 65 Service Road at high speeds shortly after midnight on Aug. 1. An ensuing crash resulted in the death of a passenger, University of South Alabama medical student Samantha Thomas.
The civil complaint alleges that Nakhla drank numerous alcoholic beverages and that he “boasted that, because he had been issued a physician card by a police department, he could escape responsibility for driving in violation of the law.”
James Killion, an attorney defending Nakhla in the civil case, could not immediately be reached for comment. The defendant’s attorney, Dennis Knizley, said he was unfamiliar with the accusation that his client referenced a physician card.
“First time I’ve ever heard of any boasting,” he said.
Knizley also noted that notwithstanding what police have said, prosecutors have not alleged that alcohol was a factor in the crash.
The civil complaint alleges that Nakhla’s Audi R8 Spyder, high-performance convertible reached speeds of 138 mph in a 45 mph zone. The car left the roadway, collided with a concrete ditch and then caromed into a guardrail before rolling six times and striking a light pole and landing upside down.
The suit, which accuses Nakhla of negligence, adds to his mounting problems. In additional to the criminal charge, Infirmary Health has terminated him from his position as a neurosurgeon. A preliminary hearing in the criminal case is scheduled for next week.
Mobile County District Judge Joe Basenberg has granted a request by Mobile police to search the contents of Nakhla’s phone in an attempt to establish the timeline of events prior to the crash.