A California judge has ruled that the family of actor Bill Paxton, who passed away in 2017 after having heart surgery, can sue Cedars Sinai Medical Center to recover punitive damages.

Steven J. Kleifield, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge, rejected Wednesday’s motion from the defense to dismiss the case. He claimed that it didn’t meet the burden of proof. 

Paxton, known for his roles in Apollo 13, Titanic and Twister, died of a stroke 11 days after renowned Dr. Ali Khoynezhad performed heart surgery at Cedars.

Actor Khaynezhad and his wife, along with their children, claim in the lawsuit that Khoynezhad had performed aggressive and invasive surgeries and that Cedars knew that Cedars was performing those types of procedures, not ones he was trained for.

They also claimed that Paxton was not cremated because the hospital attempted to conceal its plans.

Bill Paxton, pictured with wife Louise, died of a stroke in 2017 just days after a renowned Cedars-Sinai performed heart surgery

Bill Paxton (pictured here with his wife Louise) died from a stroke just days after an acclaimed Cedars-Sinai heart surgeon performed surgery.

The lawsuit claims that Cedars and Khoynezhad made a promise to Paxton’s loved ones on February 25, 2017, to conduct an after-mortem examination of Paxton.

The hospital claimed that it made this promise, with no intent to autopsy William Paxton in an effort to conceal its role in the murder of Mr. Paxton.’

Forest Lawn Funeral Home was also misled by the hospital when it claimed that the Paxton family changed its mind regarding an autopsy.

The family previously stated that they were unaware of potential dangers from the surgery on February 14, 2017, which was later proven to be unnecessary. 

After the death of his patient, Khoynezhad quit Cedars.

Paxton's family said it learned after his heart surgery that the procedure at Cedars-Sinai was unnecessary

Paxton’s family claimed that they learned from his heart surgery that Cedars-Sinai had been unnecessary.

Paxton is pictured with wife Louise and children James and Lydia during the premiere of HBO's Big Love on January 12, 2011

Paxton is shown with Louise and her children James, Lydia and Lydia on the HBO’s Big Love premiere.

Paxton at the time of his surgery was diagnosed with two heart-related ailments – bicuspid aortic valve, a congenital condition, and aortic aneurysm. 

The birth defect results in the aortic valve, which supplies oxygen-rich blood to your body via the main artery to the heart. It has two smaller leaflets than the normal three that regulate blood flow. According to the Cleveland Clinic.

Paxton at the time was diagnosed with two specific heart-related ailments – bicuspid aortic valve, a congenital condition, and aortic aneurysm. 

According to Cleveland Clinic, this birth defect causes the aortic Valve – which is the main blood artery that supplies oxygen-rich blood from the heart – to be left with only two leaflets. This is in contrast to three for a healthy heart.

The lawsuit says the doctor 'performed an overly aggressive and invasive surgery, and that Cedars knew he was performing these types of surgery, surgeries he was not trained for'

Plaintiff claims that Cedars knew the doctor was doing these kinds of procedures, which he wasn’t trained to perform.

It also said the hospital lied about planning to perform an autopsy on the late actor

The hospital also claimed that it had lied to the public about its plans for an autopsy of the actor.

Paxton as astronaut Fred Haise in Apollo 13

Paxton as Bill Harding in Twister

Paxton was best-known for his roles as astronaut Fred Haise in Apollo 13 (left) and storm chaser Bill Harding in Twister (right)

Dr Ali Khoynezhad, the heart surgeon who operated on actor Bill Paxton days before he died

Actor Bill Paxton was treated by Dr Ali Khoynezhad (heart surgeon), days before he passed away.

The Paxton family claims that Khoynezhad, Cedars-Sinai did not disclose to them that the minimally invasive procedure was ‘unusual, unusual, and not standard of care’. 

It is also alleged that the surgeon was not qualified to do the surgery as minimally invasive.  

It was stated that Khoynezhad, Cedars–Sinai performed an ‘uncomplicated and high-risk’ operation on Paxton. 

The hospital and Khoynezhad allowed this unusual operation to proceed in an effort to improve their reputations. 

If Paxton and his family had known the risks involved in the surgery, they would likely have turned down the risky operation.

According to the lawsuit, Khoynezhad could have been motivated financially by the choice of procedure he made. This in turn would have ‘affected his ability to pay for it. [his]”Professional judgment” 

Paxton has appeared in more 90 films and TV shows in his career. Most recently, Paxton starred on HBO’s series Big Love. Tom Cruise was also in Edge of Tomorrow.

Paxton received a Screen Actors Guild Award in 1996 for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.


Paxton had a birth defect called bicuspid aortic valve disease (BAVD) which affects between one and two percent of people – mostly men – in the US.

This heart condition can be genetic. It causes the two flaps sealing off the valves to the heart to fuse during the development of the baby in the womb.

The faulty leaflets, or cusps, can keep the aortic valve – one of the four muscular openings that control blood flow through the heart – from opening and closing completely.

The heart cannot function as efficiently if it has these poor seals.

It can cause blood to leak back and forth in the heart. Or the heart must pump harder to get blood through the narrowed main artery.

According to Cleveland Clinic, around 30 percent people suffering from BAVD are affected by related complications like heart disease and aneurysms.

Paxton’s heart defect led to an aortic aneurysm, or an area where the tissue of the vessel bulged out because it had been strained, stretched and weakened over time.



Untreated aneurisms can cause a burst in some people. The blood that has been coursing through the body can quickly spill into the cavity and kill the patient.

A majority of those with BAVD will require surgery at one point or another to correct the damage to their valves and aorta.

Depending on the severity of the aneurysm, doctors may elect to repair or replace the valve, but typically only perform either procedure if the aneurism gets big enough – between 5cm and 5.5cm, according to the University of Michigan.

Although the Cleveland Clinic suggests valve replacement, good survival rates are reported by both.

Paxton’s doctor elected to repair the aneurysm, through what the family’s lawyers called a ‘minimally invasive’ procedure – suggesting that it may have been a relatively new kind of operation called an endovascular surgery with stent placement.

The ‘risk of dying during or soon after an endovascular surgery is lower than the risk from open surgery,’ the University of Michigan’s website says of the operation.

While stroke can be a serious side effect of any type of aneurysm treatment, it is only one percent of those who die following less-invasive procedures.