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Complications from bariatric surgery led to brain damage








Duval County

Injury Type(s):

other-loss of services other-loss of consortium sensory/speech-blindness; total

Case Type:

Medical Malpractice – Bariatric Surgery, Delayed Treatment, Failure to MonitorFraud –

Case Name:

George Clay Chandler, Amanda Chandler, Alexandra Blake Chandler and Bryan Adam Chandler, by and through his parent and guardian, Caroline Chandler v. Laparoscopic Weight Loss Surgery Centers, LLC, Novus Centers, LLC, John DePeri, M.D., North Florida Surgeons, P.A. and Memorial Healthcare Group, Inc. dba Memorial Hospital


January 23, 2012



Amanda Chandler (Female),  Bryan Adam Chandler (Male),  George Clay Chandler (Male),  Alexandra Blake Chandler (Female)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Thomas Stoneham Edwards Jr.;
Edwards & Ragatz, P.A.;
Amanda Chandler, Bryan Adam Chandler, George Clay Chandler, Alexandra Blake Chandler


John DePeri, M.D.,  Novus Centers, LLC,  North Florida Surgeons, P.A.,  Memorial Healthcare Group, Inc.,  Laparoscopic Weight Loss Surgery Centers, LLC

Defense Attorney(s):

None reported;
John DePeri, M.D., Novus Centers, LLC, North Florida Surgeons, P.A., Memorial Healthcare Group, Inc., Laparoscopic Weight Loss Surgery Centers, LLC ■ Brian Cummings;
Gideon, Cooper & Essary PLC;
John DePeri, M.D., Novus Centers, LLC, North Florida Surgeons, P.A., Memorial Healthcare Group, Inc., Laparoscopic Weight Loss Surgery Centers, LLC


In early 2007, plaintiff George Clay Chandler, 39, a lieutenant with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, was recommended for weight-loss surgery after failing a physical examination for the first time. At the time, Chandler was 6-feet, 1-inch tall and weighed 375 pounds. From March to May 2007, Chandler was treated at Memorial Hospital Jacksonville Chandler and underwent a laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery under the care of Dr. John DePeri. Complications from the surgery on March 9 were severe and caused Chandler to go into cardiac arrest and septic shock. A leak was identified on March 16 and surgery was performed on March 17 to repair it. He ultimately suffered a hypoxic brain injury and was in a coma from March 17 through approximately April 4. While Chandler was in the intensive care unit in a comatose state, physician orders directed health care personnel to apply two drops to both eyes every eight hours for three days, yet hospital records indicated that only two applications of drops to his eyes were performed. During that period Chandler’s eyes were red with drainage and edema, and he suffered permanent damage to both corneas. While a patient in the critical care unit, Chandler also allegedly suffered contractures and bedsores, all due to the hospital and its staff falling below the accepted practices of medical care. Chandler, wife Amanda Chandler and their children, Alexandra Blake Chandler and Bryan Adam Chandler, sued DePeri for delayed treatment, as well as Memorial Healthcare Group Inc. for medical malpractice. North Florida Surgeons P.A., Laparoscopic Weight Loss Surgery Centers LLC and Novus Centers LLC were also sued. North Florida Surgeons and DePeri settled prior to trial. The other entities went bankrupt and were dismissed with prejudice. Plaintiffs’ counsel contended that Chandler was under the care of an inexperienced physician and Memorial Healthcare Group was vicariously liable for his negligence. Plaintiff’s counsel argued that DePeri’s inexperience failed to meet the hospital’s advertised accreditation, equating to fraud. Defense counsel relied on the testimony of Memorial President James Wood who testified that DePeri had performed at most 21 bariatric surgeries. Plaintiffs’ counsel countered that to meet the standards of the American Society Bariatric Surgery‘s Center of Excellence seal, he was required to have performed 50 surgeries. The Chandler family also contended that the seal also required that DePeri should have completed at least 20 hours of bariatric education courses, but he had taken only one class. Plaintiffs’ counsel asserted that in 2007, the accreditation seal was being used on a series of pamphlets given to potential surgery patients of the hospital’s bariatric surgery center and it was also found on many documents DePeri used when speaking at informational forums at the hospital. Counsel also contended that another act of fraud was the hospital’s advertising of its bariatric center and that the ads alluded that Memorial had a team of doctors and nurses committed to bariatrics, but when pre-paid patients arrived at the hospital, it was a misstatement. The defense contended that DePeri was qualified, and that neither his skills nor relationship with the hospital were misrepresented. By March 2007, DePeri had been the primary surgeon or the attending surgeon in over 70 Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgeries, and his post-graduate training included training in bariatric surgery and laparoscopy. Chandler’s surgery was a laparoscopic Roux-en-Y. DePeri had attended CME training for bariatric surgery prior to March 2007, and he was board-certified in general surgery. DePeri was assisted during Chandler’s surgery by another board-certified surgeon, defense counsel noted. Defense counsel maintained that there was no expert opinion testimony critical of how DePeri performed the March 9 surgery, including no criticisms of the two negative leak tests he performed intraoperatively. A third leak test was performed on March 13 and it, too, was negative for a leak. The defense contended that the leak did not occur until March 16 and that none of the six different physicians who saw the patient between the March 9 surgery and March 16 including Dr. DePeri and another surgeon, "missed" a leak. Memorial additionally contended that its post-operative care of the plaintiff was well within the standard of care. Memorial also asserted that DePeri was not its employee, agent or apparent agent.


The day after the surgery, Chandler collapsed in respiratory failure. Chandler’s blood pressure dropped to the point where he suffered a "low-flow stroke" and his brain didn’t get enough blood. He went comatose for more than two weeks. Chandler is now brain-damaged and confined to a wheelchair. Chandler still suffers from a number of ailments and cannot speak intelligently and cannot walk, feed, clean and bathe himself. Chandler’s medical expenses are $250,000 annually. Mrs. Chandler sought recovery for loss of consortium and loss of services. His two children sought loss of services.


The jury found that Memorial Hospital and DePeri were negligent. The jury assigned a liability of 60 percent to the hospital and 40 percent to DePeri. The jury awarded the plaintiffs $178,368,457, which included $10 million in punitive damages. $8,000,000 Personal Injury: past and future loss of services$40,000,000 Personal Injury: past and future loss of consortium$12,500,000 Personal Injury: future loss of consortium after coma$8,000,000 Personal Injury: past and future loss of services$7,000,000 Personal Injury: Past Pain And Suffering$54,000,000 Personal Injury: Future Pain And Suffering$38,100 Personal Injury: past and future medicals after coma$1,933,649 Personal Injury: past and future lost earnings$25,000,000 Personal Injury: future pain and suffering after coma$11,605,708 Personal Injury: past and future medicals$10,000,000 Personal Injury: punitive damages$291,000 Personal Injury: past and future household services. Actual Award: $228749748

Trial Information:


Jean Johnson

Trial Length:


Post Trial:

In accordance with Florida Statute that allowed plaintiffs to add prejudgment interest, as well as setoffs, attorney fees and costs, a judgment of $228,749,748 was entered for plaintiffs.

Editor’s Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiffs’ and defense counsel.