Attorney William Dolan ticked off the alleged instances of negligence against the doctor named as a defendant in the malpractice suit, then whirled toward the defense table and demanded: "What say you, doctor?"
There was no reply. The defendant's chair was empty.
The accused, fugitive abortion-clinic owner Dr. Chris Simopoulos of Fairfax, has been nowhere in evidence during the $1 million malpractice suit against him that is being tried this week in the county's Circuit Court.
Gary Godard, the lawyer defending Simopoulos, says he has never met or spoken to his client, currently a federal fugitive on two felony charges filed last year in Norfolk, where he is accused of performing abortion procedures on women who were not pregnant. Authorities say they have not seen him since September 1984, the same month he failed to appear in a state court there.
By agreement of the lawyers involved in the Fairfax lawsuit, the trial began this week with the seven-member jury told only that Simopoulos would not be at the trial. There has been no discussion of the criminal charges against Simopoulos during the three-day civil trial.
The case has focused on accusations by Katheleen H. Powers, 34, of Reston that the Greek-immigrant doctor punctured her uterus during a routine procedure, an action that later caused her to become sterile. The $1 million in damages she is seeking is the maximum allowed in malpractice proceedings under Virginia law.
The seven-member jury adjourned yesterday after four hours of deliberations without reaching a verdict.
The absence of Simopoulos, 47, has given a novel cast to the three-day trial, but it is only the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of the gynecologist, who once operated abortion clinics in Falls Church and Norfolk.
In 1980, prior to his indictment in Norfolk, Simopoulos was convicted in Fairfax of performing an illegal abortion outside a hospital and temporarily stripped of his Virginia medical license.
After Simopoulos failed to appear for a hearing in Norfolk, federal authorities speculated that he may have returned to his native Greece.
His wife, Patricia, who lives in Arlington, appeared this week at the Fairfax courthouse but did not testify during the trial. She testified in pretrial proceedings that she did not know the whereabouts of her husband. She worked in one of her husband's clinics, according to lawyers.
Powers' civil suit stems from procedures Simopoulos performed on her in December 1982. According to testimony, Powers underwent what was supposed to have been a routine dilation-and-curettage by Simopoulos.
Several days later, she was rushed in critical condition to Fairfax Hospital where, according to testimony, she underwent emergency surgery and a large tear in her uterus was discovered and repaired.
Dolan told the jury that Simopoulos punctured the woman's uterus during the initial procedure, and his negligence caused her to lose her uterus after two subsequent operations. Powers testified she and her husband are unable to have children.
Simopoulos' attorney, Godard, told the jury that Simopoulos did not puncture the woman's uterus, that his procedures were correctly performed, and that in fact her uterus need not have been removed by the second doctor.
"The credible evidence is that Dr. Simopoulos is not responsible for the complications of Mrs. Powers," Godard said in closing. "There is no evidence of negligence."
Godard said he was retained and paid by Simopoulos' malpractice insurance company, and came to the case after the doctor had disappeared.