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Woman sues Utah surgeon's estate for botched breast surgery

Published March 22, 2013 6:39 am

Courts • Ex-patient accuses Joseph Berg, who overdosed last year, of malpractice.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A woman is suing the estate of troubled Orem surgeon Joseph Berg, who died about a year after she says he botched her surgery.

Amy Ladue seeks damages from Berg's estate and the Cosmetic Plastic Surgical Institute for suspicion of health care malpractice and negligence, among other accusations, according to the complaint filed last week in 3rd District Court. She does not specify a desired amount, preferring that be determined at a jury trial.

Ladue went to Berg's office in Aug. 19, 2011, for breast surgery. That morning, Berg had intentionally taken a significant amount of controlled substances, including narcotics, and was under the influence when performing her surgery, according to the complaint.

Ladue came back to Berg's office a few days later, concerned about complications, but he wasn't there. An assistant related the concern to Berg, who assured Ladue she was fine, the complaint states. Ladue also claims that at some point he recommended a treatment but did nothing else to help her, and she suffered complications from the surgery.

In November 2011, Berg's career at the Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Institute came to an end when he attacked his girlfriend in his home, dragging her to a bedroom closet. Berg was arrested after police forced their way into the home and found the woman bound in a closet. Officers also found numerous prescription drugs in the house, including controlled substances, according to the complaint.

The Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing suspended Berg's medical licenses on Nov. 30, 2011, after an emergency hearing. In the suspension order, the division said Berg's staff had quit en masse the previous summer because of his strange behavior: falling asleep while standing, swallowing handfuls of pills and buying drugs not used in his practice.

In April 2012, Berg pleaded guilty to a reduced count of second-degree felony kidnapping and two third-degree felony counts of possession of a controlled substance and possession of a firearm by a restricted person. He admitted an addiction to painkillers.

Berg and his girlfriend died in August 2012 from what police ruled to be an accidental overdose of Isoflurane, an inhaled anesthetic commonly used in surgeries.


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