Case details

Patient claimed bariatric surgeon lacerated esophagus





Result type

Not present

brain, stroke
On Nov. 16, 2012, plaintiff Doug Sunstedt, 43, a plumber who weighed 434 pounds, underwent a gastric sleeve surgery, which was performed by Dr. Jamshid Nazarian, a bariatric surgeon at Tri-City Regional Medical Center, in Hawaiian Gardens. During the surgery, Sunstedt suffered a laceration of his esophagus. Sunstedt sued Nazarian; Tri-City Regional Medical Center; and two other physicians involved in Sunstedt’s care, Dr. Nagi Zaki and Dr. Lee Au. Sunstedt alleged that the defendants were negligent in the performance of the gastric sleeve surgery and that this negligence constituted medical malpractice. Several of the defendants settled out of the case, and the matter continued against Nazarian only. Sunstedt’s counsel contended that Nazarian breached the standard of care and caused the esophagus laceration during the surgery. Sunstedt’s bariatric-surgery expert testified that the only reported cases in medical literature of someone lacerating an esophagus during a bariatric surgery happened twice, both in third-world countries and never in the United States. Nazarian and the defense’s expert bariatric surgeon both opined that a laceration of the esophagus is an accepted risk of bariatric surgery., Sunstedt sustained a laceration of his esophagus, which was immediately discovered during the surgery. He was then was transferred to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center, in Orange, where he suffered a stroke. Sunstedt also developed pneumonia, and he required surgery to close the laceration. Sunstedt has been in and out of the hospital since the surgery. He claimed that he has been unable to eat properly and has a difficult time swallowing food. He also claimed that he suffers from gastrointestinal issues. Sunstedt currently weighs 120 pounds. Plaintiff’s counsel noted that Sunstedt was able to return to work after the surgery to close the laceration, but that Sunstedt has been in the hospital since the trial. Counsel contended that Sunstedt will have to undergo a Roux-en-Y surgery, an end-to-side surgical anastomosis of the bowel to use for the reconstruction the gastrointestinal tract, as a result of his condition. Sunstedt sought recovery of past and future medical costs, past lost earnings, and damages for past and future pain and suffering. Defense counsel argued that Sunstedt’s subsequent care at UCI Medical Center was negligent and caused Sunstedt to have the stroke.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Long Beach, CA

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