LOS ANGELES (CN) - Two women who worked at medical centers affiliated with the 1-800-Get-Thin ad campaign claim the family behind the clinics contributed to the death of a patient and performed "medically unnecessary surgical procedures" to defraud insurance companies.
The two former surgical techs, Dyanne Deuel and Karla Osorio, are among 13 plaintiffs who sued 1-800-Get-Thin LLC, the Omidi family, and their chain of surgery centers, in Superior Court.
The plaintiffs make a number of alarming allegations, including that a member of the Omidi family covered up the death of a patient, Paula Rojeski.
They also claim that Omidi clinics routinely failed to sterilize surgical equipment and prepped patients for surgery in unsanitary rooms.
Five patients have died since 2009 after surgeries through 1-800-Get-Thin-affiliated clinics, the Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday.
The complaint states: "Plaintiffs are informed and believe, and thereon allege that defendants, Kambiz Beniamia Omidi aka Julian Omidi his younger brother, Michael Omidi, M.D., and Cindy Omidi, their mother (hereinafter referred to as the 'Omidis') have created a huge, lucrative and criminal enterprise to solicit patients for Lap Band surgeries through their 1 800 Get Thin billboards, TV, radio and print ads using commission-based illegal aliens to staff their call center, who refer patients to one of the Omidis' outpatient surgery centers. Plaintiffs are further informed and believe that the Omidis, through their various shell corporations, then submit fraudulent billings to the patients' insurance companies for surgical procedures performed in the Omidis' unsanitary and substandard facilities. Plaintiffs are further informed that the Omidis instruct their surgeons and doctors to perform medically unnecessary surgical procedures such as liver biopsies, hiatal hernia repairs, hysterectomies, gall bladder removal, and bladder slings in order to increase the defendants' billings to the patients' insurance companies. In order to save costs and further increase their profit margin, the Omidis do not stock their surgery centers with the necessary medical equipment to properly sterilize surgical instruments, require the staff to 'recycle' surgical instruments which fall apart, and do not stock medications or equipment to deal with life-threatening medical emergencies should the surgical patient 'crash' during surgery. Further, the medical equipment and monitors at their surgical facilities are outdated, broken and frequently malfunction. The Omidis require their staff to perform medical procedures which they are not licensed or qualified to perform. These cost-cutting practices are designed to increase the Omidis' profit margin at the expense of the patients' safety. When patients have died or have had a life-threatening medical emergency occur during surgery, the plaintiffs are informed and believe that the Omidis have engaged in systematic and illegal cover ups to thwart investigations by public health authorities and law enforcement agencies by falsifying medical records, removing and hiding malfunctioning medical equipment and concealing information from regulators and law enforcement during their inspections to prevent these violations of the law from being discovered."
That is the first paragraph of the 34-page complaint, which contains 24 additional pages of attachments.
Deuel says she worked as a manager and surgical tech for the Omidis at their Beverly Hills Surgery Center, which is a defendant. Osorio was a surgical tech at the same facility. Deuel says she lost her job for complaining about conditions at the clinics; Osorio claims she was harassed and subjected to a hostile work environment.