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Los Angeles Medical Malpractice?: Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeons Linked to 5 Lap-Band Deaths and 1-800-GET-THIN Marketing Campaign

December 31, 1969

Two Beverly Hills brothers, Michael and Julian Omidi, and their plastic surgery business have come under fire over the five deaths of patients who underwent procedures to get a lap-band implanted in their stomachs. Thousands of people reportedly signed up for the procedures at the siblings' California clinics after seeing or hearing the 1-800-GET-THIN ads that they are accused of conceptualizing. The Omidis are now defendants in a number of Los Angeles and Orange County, California surgical malpractice lawsuits claiming wrongful death.

The victims that died include:
• Laura Faitro, who went home after the procedure in great pain and later died. Per the coroner, her liver had been lacerated. Her husband believes she was the victim of Los Angeles surgical malpractice.

• Ana Rantaria, who died 10 days after undergoing Lap-Band surgery. Her death was a result of laparoscopic gastric band placement complications, diabetes, and hernia repair.

• Tamara Walter, who died three days after her Lap-Band procedure at one of the brothers' clinics.

• Willie Brooks, whose cause of death was listed by the coroner as peritonitis from Lap-Band procedure as a result of obesity. He died three days after his surgery.

• Paula Rojeski who died while her lap-band procedure was still under way. Homicide detectives are investigating her death.

The ABC news program 20/20 recently took a closer look at the allegations surrounding the two brothers, who reportedly did not perform any of the lap-band surgeries. Michael has been on probation as a doctor for thee years--he was reinstated last year--while Julian lost his medical license over an incident allegedly involving dishonesty. The two of them became minor celebrities after they were featured on the cable television show "Dr. 90210."

"Surgeons owe a duty of care to their patients. This includes making sure that a patient is provided with a certain level of care before, during, and after surgery," said Los Angeles medical malpractice attorney Vincent Howard. "Patients should know of the risks involved in any procedure they agree to undertake and it is the medical professional's responsibility to provide this information."

The 1-800-GET-THIN marketing campaign that blitzed its way through Southern California is now on its way out. In December, the Food and Drug Administration put out a warning to clinics that the advertisements, on billboards, radio, TV, and the Internet, were misleading because they failed to provide a warning about the health risks involved. A couple of months later, Allergan, the leading maker of lap-bands, announced the decision to stop selling this medical device to clinics affiliated with 1-800-GET-THIN.

Aside from the allegations of improper marketing, there have been problems reportedly with the lap-band after its been implanted in a patient, including slippage in the stomach, which may prevent food from properly passing through the body erosion, breakage, and deflation. When inserted properly, the band, which is inflatable, is supposed to lessen or increase a stomach's capacity to help to help facilitate weight loss.

"If a medical device proves unreasonably unsafe and these hazards lead to complications, infection, or death, a manufacturer can be held liable for California products liability," said Anaheim defective medical device attorney Vincent Howard.

1-800-Get-Thin Under Fire for Lap-Band Surgery Deaths, ABC News, May 11, 2012

Inside GET-THIN, Los Angeles Times, May 6, 2012

FDA issues Warning Letters for misleading advertising of Lap-Band, FDA, December 13, 2011

More Blog Posts:
Los Angeles County Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Claims Lap-Band Surgery Caused Wife's Wrongful Death, California Injury Lawyers, March 9, 2011

Los Angeles Medical Malpractice?: California Medical Board Investigates Surgeon Following Lawndale Woman's Death After Lap-Band Procedure, California Injury Lawyers, February 4, 2011

Family of Lawndale Woman to Pursue Los Angeles Surgery Malpractice Action Over Her California Wrongful Death from Lap-Band Surgery, California Injury Lawyers, April 27, 2011

Rowland Heights Doctor Accused of Los Angeles Medical Negligence and Murder, California Injury Lawyers, February 28, 2012

Los Angeles medical malpractice lawyer Vincent Howard of Howard Law, PC, represents clients in LA County, Orange County, Riverside County, and San Bernardino County.