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Wife sues Norberg for malpractice

Dr. Alonna Norberg reads from her diary while giving testimony during the trial of Dr. Jon Norberg on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012, at the Cass County District Courthouse in Fargo. (Forum Communications)

FARGO -- The wife of a Fargo surgeon has sued him for medical malpractice, two days after a Cass County jury found him not guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting her.

The malpractice lawsuit was filed Friday on behalf of Alonna Norberg against her husband, orthopedic surgeon Jon Norberg.

A jury acquitted Jon Norberg Nov. 30 on charges of gross sexual imposition and reckless endangerment.

"I'm quite surprised that she would bring the case after the evidence was brought forth the way that it was," he said in a phone interview Tuesday.

Jon Norberg denied the criminal allegations that he gave his wife the powerful sedative propofol without her consent and had sex with her while she was unaware. He said that she agreed to use the drug to relieve her chronic pain and help her sleep and that the sex was consensual.

The malpractice lawsuit claims propofol isn't for home use, wasn't used on Alonna Norberg with proper monitoring or safety equipment and was dangerously mixed with other medications - all which are allegations raised in the criminal case.

The lawsuit also alleges that Jon Norberg negligently failed to obtain informed consent from his wife, who also is a doctor, before giving her the drug.

Jon Norberg said he expects his defense will be similar.

"She was aware of the risks, the benefits, she requested it, all the same stuff that we talked about during the (criminal) trial," he said.

The lawsuit claims that Jon Norberg's administration of propofol and other dangerous drugs caused Alonna Norberg to suffer memory loss, confusion, inability to remain conscious, organ failure and "other physical and emotional harm."

Alonna Norberg is seeking more than $50,000 to compensate her for economic damages, including loss of income and employment, as well as damages for mental anguish, emotional distress and pain and suffering.

Also named as defendants are the Plastic Surgery Institute where Jon Norberg worked - and obtained the propofol for home use - and the PSI Surgical Center of which he was a member.

Kay Abdullah, one of the surgery institute's owners, and Melody Shawchuck, a nurse who works at the institute and testified as a defense witness in Jon Norberg's trial, also are named as defendants.

The 17-page complaint and demand for jury trial claims the defendants "did, could, or should have foreseen the risk of the potential harm caused by the unsupervised or unmonitored release of propofol and other dangerous drugs requiring a doctor's prescription for use."

Alonna Norberg is represented by attorneys Ronald Galstad and Brian Balstad of East Grand Forks, Minn., and James Koby of La Crosse, Wis. Galstad did not return a phone message Tuesday.

Galstad and Balstad belong to the same law firm as Patti Jensen, Alonna Norberg's original lawyer in her divorce case against her husband, which is set for trial on Jan. 14.

Jensen served the summons for the malpractice case on the defendants on Aug. 24. Galstad and Balstad substituted for Jensen in the case after the North Dakota Supreme Court's Disciplinary Board suspended her for professional misconduct for the month of November.

Jon Norberg said his malpractice insurance provider will appoint an attorney to represent him in the case.