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Medical negligence wrongful death claim against Sono Bello and Dr. Marco Sobrino settled for $1.9 Million

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Medical negligence wrongful death claim against Sono Bello and Dr. Marco Sobrino settled for $1.9 Million 

Cydney Campbell Webster and Cheryl Gawron of Graham Lundberg & Peschel, a Seattle, Washington law firm have recently settled a medical negligence and wrongful death claim against Sono Bello and Dr. Marco Sobrino for the death a 28 year old woman, Aura Javellana. Ms. Javellana died May 27, 2009 as a result of acute lidocaine toxicity from a tumescent liposuction surgery performed the day before.

With the rise in popularity of plastic surgery today, the number of office-based surgical procedures, as well as the number of facilities doing these procedures, has increased dramatically. A cosmetic surgery facility that does not use general anesthesia falls under the category of “office-based surgery centers.” Most states, including Washington, are woefully lacking in regulations to monitor the safety of these facilities for its patients. These facilities are not subject to the same state and federal licensing rules as hospitals and other health care facilities. There is no licensing requirement, and no inspections; they are not even required to report a death. While states are scrambling to get these regulations in place, the public remains unprotected, and unaware of the potential dangers within these facilities.

Promises of a simple procedure and quick recovery led Ms. Javellana to a Sono Bello Body Contour Center in Bellevue, Washington on May 26, 2009, for tumescent liposuction. Sono Bello advertised the surgery as a new, safe and quick procedure, where most patients return to work the same or next day, with an incision so tiny that only a band-aid is needed to cover it up. Because Ms. Javellana wanted to surprise her fiancé, she had checked herself into a hotel the morning of the surgery, then drove to Sono Bello. She met Dr. Marco Sobrino for the first time moments before he began the surgery. Tumescent liposuction is a type of cosmetic surgery that does not require general anesthesia. Instead, the solution, containing a mixture of lidocaine, saline, and epinephrine is injected underneath the skin into the fatty layers. The fat is then suctioned out with the use of a small cannula. Careful monitoring of the amount of tumescent solution administered to a patient during surgery, as well as how much fatty material is suctioned out, is critical in order to avoid an overdose of anesthetic (lidocaine). Discovery later revealed the staff of Sono Bello failed to keep track of how much tumescent solution was injected into Ms. Javellana, and also failed to document how much fatty material was removed. The Department of Health Medical Quality Assurance Commission has a licensing revocation hearing pending against Dr. Sobrino.

After the surgery, Ms. Javellana told the staff that she did not know where her ride was but that she would take a taxi home. Sono Bello staff allowed Ms. Javellana to do so despite their policy that all patients are to be driven home and accompanied by a responsible adult. Sono Bello had sent patients home, alone, in taxi-cabs after surgical procedures before. Ms. Javellana then went to her hotel. The next day she was found dead in her room. The King County Medical Examiner concluded that she died of acute lidocaine intoxication. 

The lawsuit brought on behalf of Ms. Javellana’s estate and her mother and sister, sued Sono Bello and Dr. Sobrino for negligence, alleging that Ms. Javellana relied heavily on Sono Bello’s advertising, marketing materials, and discharge instructions, which mislead her into believing that the procedure was safe, had an “extremely low rate of complications,” and was “virtually painless”, that the major risks and complications of traditional liposuction had been “ruled out”, that she could “return to work the same or next day”, and that she would only have “mild recovery discomfort” or aches and pains similar to a “good workout.” 

Plaintiffs also alleged that Ms. Javellana was not evaluated for the procedure by a licensed health care provider until she was being prepped for surgery, Sono Bello failed to inform Ms. Javellana of the procedure’s known associated risk of lidocaine toxicity, neither Dr. Sobrino nor his medical assistant documented the total amount of tumescent solution used during the procedure, or the amount of material removed, Dr. Sobrino left Sono Bello without ensuring that Ms. Javellana was stable and without giving appropriate discharge instructions, and Sono Bello, its staff, and Dr. Sobrino did not ensure that Ms. Javellana would be in the presence of an adult after her release . 

Sono Bello and Dr. Sobrino had a single insurance policy of $2,000,000.00 which was eroded by defense costs and defense attorney’s fees. Defendants offered their insurance policy limits, less than what had been spent defending the case, for a settlement of $1,876,636.79. Sono Bello sought confidentiality of the settlement but the family felt very strongly that they did not want to be paid for silence.

To Ms. Javellana’s family, the non-confidentiality of the settlement will help assure that the doctor and the clinic will be held accountable, and that in the future others will be made aware of the risks of cosmetic surgery as well as the risks of outpatient facilities that are not regulated by the State. 

Graham Lundberg & Peschel is a Seattle-based personal injury law firm with offices in Seattle, Tacoma, and Port Orchard, and has nineteen attorneys practicing throughout Washington State. Graham Lundberg & Peschel is dedicated to protecting the rights of the injured across the state.

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