A class action lawsuit filed in Maricopa County, Arizona claims a surgeon in Tijuana, Mexico used “high-pressure sales tactics” and at least one U.S.-based recruiter to lure clients south of the border, and the surgeon was negligent in performing weight loss procedures.

The lawsuit, filed by Jessica Ballandby against Dr. Mario Almanza and his alleged recruiter, Sandy Brimhall, claims Brimhall promised “a quick in and out,” and “surgeries would be done by doctors who are qualified and competent.” When Ballandby returned to the U.S., she was diagnosed with internal bleeding and compared Dr. Almanza’s operation to a “pig farm.”

Sketchy Surgeries and a “Weight Coyote”

Ballandby is joined in her lawsuit by Justin Blackburn, Carson Miller, Sheli Stoddard, and Sunshine Brewer who claim negligence, fraud, misrepresentation, violation of the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act, and intentional infliction of emotional distress on behalf of themselves and possibly 6,000 other patients. Balckburn is the step-son of Elizabeth Erickson, who died in 2013 after surgeons discovered the lap band she received in Mexico had eroded through her stomach and diaphragm, and had lodged in her right lung.

Over 20 other individuals and businesses are named in the lawsuit, including Fill Centers USA, which the suit claims would arrange trips to Mexico and aftercare in the U.S. for patients who received the Lap-Band surgery. Also named is the school district that employed Brimhall as a principal — Brimhall dubbed herself the “Weight Coyote” in emails sent from her Show Low Unified School District account, and allegedly recruited referrals utilizing district resources during business hours while employed as a principal at Whipple Ranch Elementary School.

Class Is in Session

The class action alleges that the plaintiffs sustained long term physical, emotional, and mental effects after either utilizing the referral service provided by Brimhall, the surgeries performed by Dr. Almanza, the aftercare treatment received by Fill Centers, and other services provided by the defendants.

ABC News in San Diego confirmed four Americans died after having weight loss surgery with Dr. Almanza. “That’s what he’s treating human beings over there like,” she said. “Just like a pig. Slaughtering them.”

A class action lawsuit allows a number of litigants to file a single lawsuit if joining multiple lawsuits was not possible or practical, the members of the group possessed a joint interest in the question to be adjudicated, and the parties named in the suit could adequately represent the interests of persons who were absent from the action but whose rights would be affected by the outcome. If a court allows a class action to proceed, any judgment binds all members of the group.

If you have been injured by a medical procedure or have more questions about class action lawsuits, contact a local injury attorney.

Related Resources:

Law Offices of Ainbinder & Pratt

Find Out If You Have a Case

For a Free In-Depth Consultation to Explore Your Options, Call Our Office at: (562) 498-4600, Text Us HERE or Email Us.

Your Details

Let us know how to get back to you.


How can we help?

Feel free to ask a question or simply leave a comment.


About Ainbinder & Pratt

We dedicate our practice to injured individual and their families, and we have done so for over a combined 60 years. We pride ourselves on providing quality representation with personal attention to every client and case. We understand what it takes to go up against an insurance company and you should not do it alone! Let our experienced lawyers fight your battle for you.

The Practice

Our practice covers all cities and counties in California for workers’ compensation & personal injury cases. We have dedicated attorneys and a knowledgeable staff that will keep you informed throughout the process.

Warning: Making a false or fraudulent workers’ compensation claim is a felony subject to 5 years in prison or a fine up to $50,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

English English Español Español