From what you have said so far, you are putting the cart before the horse. If he was in severe pain for a year, a lumbar surgery might have been his best option--and you have not said the doctor was negligent in performing the surgery.
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I thought I graduated law school, although the powers that be at my law school are probably shaking their collective head over that oversight ("we let HIM graduate?").
Your question reads like a hypothetical wrapped in a riddle, enigma, and a law school exam.
What exactly is the injury to begin with? If the surgery occurred and no harm occurred, then what difference does any of this make anyway?
Now, let's consider whether incompetence in one court renders one incompetent for purposes of consenting to surgery. The answer is that it depends on the situation, circumstances, and other factors, so even if the patient was "not competent" to testify in a court of law, that does not necessarily mean that person could not elect to have a surgery to alleviate pain. Again, informed consent depends on whether patient understood risks of surgery, understood what the procedure was etc.
So let's say there was no valid consent. There are a few problems. One, we don't have an injury, so the case is valueless. Second, there could be a limitations period issue, as the surgery occurred in 2011. Generally, there is a 2 year time limit in which to file suit, subject to some extensions for discovery and the like.
What I can tell you is that if you bothered to post this question online, something is bothering you and you should give it the proper attention by talking to a medical malpractice lawyer.
Stephen L. Hoffman
Law Office of Stephen L. Hoffman LLC
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Good question. It would make sense, and could be considered a battery if the doctor knew that the patient was unable to consent. However, if the surgery was necessary and successful, there is probably not much to complain about on the facts that you give. Although a few interesting hypothetical questions come to mind.
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