Malpractice lawsuit targets Vancouver plastic surgeon, PeaceHealth

Six women claim negligence, unacceptable cosmetic outcomes

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

Published:

 
photoDr. Allen Gabriel

Six women have filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Vancouver plastic surgeon Allen Gabriel and PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center.

The suit was filed in Clark County Superior Court on May 2. Vancouver attorney Jane Clark filed the complaint on behalf of the six women — Susie Bellar, Yvonne Quashie, Katheryn "Michele" Bridgman, Danielle Coates, Jule Fitzpatrick and Lisa Pickett-Stuart — all of whom underwent surgery performed by Gabriel at the hospital.

The women claim they had unacceptable cosmetic outcomes and Gabriel was negligent in the care he provided, Clark said. Many of the women had postoperative complications and most underwent additional corrective surgeries, she said.

In a response filed in Superior Court, Gabriel denies he was negligent or caused or contributed to any injury.

One plaintiff, Bridgman, said she underwent surgery with Gabriel in July 2010. The procedure was to remove excess skin and fat from her stomach and hips after she lost 100 pounds — the result of a 2002 gastric bypass surgery.

After the surgery, Bridgman said she was left with pockets of fat on her hips and a bulge in her pubis area that has made vaginal intercourse nearly impossible. Corrective surgeries will cost about $19,000, said Bridgman, 65.

At least one other plaintiff underwent a similar skin-removal procedure, and some of the women received breast-reduction surgeries, Bridgman said.

Ken Cole, spokesman for PeaceHealth Southwest Washington Medical Center, issued a statement on behalf of the hospital and Gabriel, who works for PeaceHealth Medical Group.

"Dr. Allen Gabriel has excellent credentials," Cole said. "It is not PeaceHealth's policy to make public statements when there is legal action pending."

Gabriel is a board-certified plastic surgeon, earning certification in November 2009. He received his Washington state physician and surgeon licenses in January 2008. Gabriel is in good standing with the Washington State Department of Health and no complaints have been filed against him, according to a department spokesman.

The lawsuit has now entered the discovery stage, where the attorneys take depositions. Clark expects the trial will occur sometime next spring, unless a settlement is reached outside of court.

The lawsuit does not specify how much money the women are seeking in damages.

Marissa Harshman: 360-735-4546; http://twitter.com/col_health; http://facebook.com/reporterharshman; marissa.harshman@columbian.com