A Madera doctor will receive $3.3 million in damages -- one of the largest awards in Madera County history -- for being wrongfully fired seven years ago by the state prisons department.
Jurors took 2½ days last week to decide that prison officials had breached a contract with Dr. Muhammad Anwar, who was fired without explanation or notice, said Fresno attorney Mike Ball, who represented the doctor.
"It's been a long seven years," Ball said Tuesday. "The doctor feels vindicated."
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation was reviewing the ruling Tuesday and didn't have an immediate comment, spokesman Jeffrey Callison said.
According to Ball, Anwar received a state contract in 1990 to provide surgical services to inmates at Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla. When the Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla opened in 1995, Anwar began performing surgery on those inmates, too.
As California's prison population ballooned, the doctor restricted his own private practice to provide care to the inmates, Ball said. Anwar formed a physicians' group to help prison officials get proper care for the inmates.
But in 2005, the state agency abruptly terminated Anwar, Ball said.
During the trial, Ball argued that prison officials not only breached a contract, but violated his 66-year-old client's due process rights. Ball pointed out that prison officials showed no evidence of wrongdoing by Anwar or even made a complaint against him. "To this day, we still don't know why he was fired," Ball said Tuesday.