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Beverly Hills Surgery Center|Blamed for Multiple Deaths

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Top Surgeons, Almont Ambulatory Surgery Center and Beverly Hills Surgery Center caused multiple deaths by botching lap band surgeries on morbidly obese people, a class action claims in Superior Court.

The lead plaintiff, a widower, says the medical offices are run by two brothers with checkered histories, one of whom is on medical probation, and one of whom lost his medical license after California accused him of "dishonesty, unprofessional conduct, [and] failing to disclose criminal convictions."

Lead plaintiff John Faitro claims his late wife, Laura Lee Faitro, "saw and heard defendants' advertisements on TV and as a result, hired and paid defendants, and each of them, to perform a Lap-Band surgical procedure on Laura Lee Faitro."

The Faitros paid $12,220 for the lap-band surgery, about $3,000 of which was covered by insurance, according to the complaint.

Faitro claims that on July 21, 2010, "Ishan Najib Shamaan, M.D., assisted by Au Lee, M.D., performed a Lap-Band laparoscopic surgery on Laura Lee Faitro at Top Surgeon's ambulatory surgical suite located at 7320 Woodlake Avenue, Suite 320, West Hills, California. During her surgery, Dr. Shamaan lacerated the liver of Laura Lee Faitro in three (3) places, and had to call another Top Surgeon doctor, Kevork George Tashjian, M.D., to assist him to complete Laura Lee Faitro's Lap-Band surgical procedure."

None of those doctors, however, are named as defendants.

The defendants are Top Surgeons Inc., Top Surgeons LLC, 1 800 Get Thin LLC, Almont Ambulatory Surgery Center, Beverly Hills Surgery Center, Kambiz Beniamia Omidi, and Dr. Michael Omidi.

Faitro claims Top Surgeons discharged his wife despite her complaints of severe abdominal pain, and that the pain was so intense it forced her to seek help at the Simi Valley Hospital emergency room. She died on July 26 of "multi-organ failure and infarction due to shock, secondary to bleeding and sepsis in the abdominal cavity," according to the complaint.

Faitro claims that in 2009, California accused Dr. Tashijian of "gross negligence arising from surgeries performed on three patients, two of whom died as a result of his gross negligence."

He claims that "despite the fact that the state of California was, at all relevant times, and is attempting to revoke Dr. Tashjian's medical license ... the defendants, and each of them, have failed and continue to fail to disclose these material facts to their clients and patients on whom Dr. Tashjian continues to perform Lap-Band surgeries."

The serious allegations continue.

Faitro claims that Kambiz Beniamia Omidi aka Julian Omidi is president of Top Surgeons Inc., principal of Top Surgeons LLC, president of Almont Ambulatory Surgery, and CEO of the Beverly Hills Surgery Center.

Faitro says that California revoked Omidi's physician and surgeon's license on June 19, 2009, "for dishonesty, unprofessional conduct, failing to disclose criminal convictions, and a 'penchant for dishonesty, to bend his position and shade his statements to suit his needs, without consistent regard for the truth."

The complaint continues: "Despite the fact that his physician and surgeon's certificate has been revoked by the Medical Board of California ... Julian Omidi owns and manages defendants Top Surgeons, Almont Ambulatory Surgery Center, and Beverly Hills Surgery Center, all of which routinely perform Lap Band surgeries."

Defendant Dr. Michael Omidi is chief of staff and director of surgery for Top Surgeons, Almont Ambulatory Surgery Center, and Beverly Hills Surgery Center, according to the complaint.

Faitro says, "the state of California revoked Michael Omidi's physician and surgeon's license effective Oct. 3, 2008 for aiding and abetting the unlicensed practice of medicine and for gross negligence in the treatment of three (3) patients, but his license revocation has been stayed for a period of three (3) years of probation. According to the Medical Board of California, Michael Omidi holds no board certification."

Despite their checkered histories, the complaint states, Julian and Michael Omidi advertise themselves as "top rated surgical specialists" and "specially trained, hand-picked board certified surgeons" who provide "a higher level of care" with a "nationally recognized, expert and caring team," who "go beyond the standard of care."

Faitro says the Omidis know that is not the case, that their "representations are false and deceptive and highly likely to deceive consumers," and that the Omidis' claims "go far beyond mere 'puffery.'"

The complaint adds: "On December 7, 2010, the Health Officer for Los Angeles County requested the FDA to investigate the defendants' advertising of their Lap-Band surgeries because the advertising 'inadequately informs consumers of potential risks' and 'fail to provide the relevant warnings, precautions, side effects, and contraindications related to the procedure.'"

The complaint also object to "defendants' use of "fake newspaper headline stating, 'Insurance Reform May Stop PPO Insurance Coverage for the Lap-Band.'" The class claim this ad "conveys a sense of urgency that if the consumer doesn't rush and make an appointment, he or she may lose the chance to get the Lap-Band surgery paid for by their PPO insurance coverage."

Also, the class claims: "Defendants have advertised that their Lap-Band surgeries are 'safe' and a '1-Hour' procedure ... [but] the Lap-Band surgery requires several hours of post-operative recovery in an out-patient setting and is not a simple '1 hour' process as advertised by defendants."

Finally, the class claims that "the published morbidity rates for Lap Band surgeries are between 0.02% - 0.05% (or between 2 and 5 deaths per 10,000 patients). However, plaintiffs are aware of at least four (4) patients of the defendants who died within days of undergoing Lap Band surgeries performed by the Defendants. ... Even assuming defendants have performed 5,000 Lap Band surgeries (which is highly doubtful), these four (4) deaths alone exceed the published mortality rates."(Parentheses in complaint.)

Joining Faitro as a class representative are Arturo and Elvia Renteria, for the estate of Ana Renteria.

The class seeks "restitution and disgorgement and damages for unfair competition and false advertising.

They are represented by Alexander Robertson IV of Westlake Village.

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