The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Michele Pelter has filed suit against 1-800-GET-THIN (a marketing firm) and the health care providers who performed a 2011 Lap-Band surgery on her sister, Paula Rojeski. Rojeski was 55 years old when went in for the Lap-Band procedure in September 2011 at Valley Surgical Center. This is a West Hills, California clinic that is affiliated with the 1-800-GET-THIN advertising campaign. In one of her allegations against the marketing company, Pelter alleges they failed to warn her sister about the risks of Lap-Band surgery and neglected to recommend alternatives to her. This company promotes the surgery on billboards, as well as on television and radio. In their marketing campaign, they use the catchy jingle, “Let your life begin, call 1-800-GET-THIN.”
In addition to suing the marketing firm, Pelter has accused the anesthesiologist of waiting 15 minutes before advising the surgeon that Rojeski’s condition had worsened after the surgery. There are reports that two former surgical technicians will testify that the anesthesiologist failed to turn on the oxygen tank before Rojeski’s surgery. Also, there are allegations that there may have been faulty surgical equipment in the facility at the time of the surgery – equipment that had been changed out with another hospital at the time of the most recent inspection. The suit alleges one of the doctors who operates 1-800-GET-THIN directed employees to remove the equipment for the inspection. Ultimately, the Valley Surgical Center employees called 911 and paramedics took Rojeski to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead.
1-800-GET-THIN has recently taken down the Lap-Band surgery advertisements after receiving a warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because the ads may have been misleading, and did not include adequate warnings about the risks of the surgery. The band itself is manufactured by Allergan, Inc., and consists of a silicone tube that is surgically implanted around the stomach to discourage overeating. Allergan has agreed to no longer sell the device to any companies affiliated with 1-800-GET-THIN.