Plastic Surgeon Sues Times Mirror Claiming Libel

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Newport Beach plastic surgeon has filed a libel suit against Times Mirror Co., publisher of the Los Angeles Times, over two 1990 articles detailing the death of a woman who fell into a coma after breast-enlargement surgery at the doctor's office.

Dr. Edward J. Domanskis contends in the lawsuit that The Times published "numerous false and defamatory statements" concerning his conduct during surgery on Martha McClellan, a 35-year-old Laguna Beach homemaker who died four days after the procedure.

McClellan was taken by ambulance to Hoag Hospital after the surgery on March 8, 1990. She died at the hospital on March 12, after her husband learned from two neurologists that her brain activity had ceased and he asked that life support be terminated.

The Times Orange County Edition published an article on March 22, 1990, that reported the death of McClellan after the surgery and displayed pictures of her husband, home builder Michael McClellan; of Domanskis and of the deceased. The next day, the newspaper printed an article revealing that the Medical Board of California had opened a formal investigation into the death.

A legal complaint was filed in Orange County Superior Court against The Times on Dec. 18, 1991. The paper was served with the lawsuit on Monday, said Glen Smith, senior staff attorney for Times Mirror.

"We have received the complaint and are studying it," Smith said Thursday. The investigation by the Medical Board of California into the circumstances of McClellan's death is under review by the state attorney general's office for possible administrative action, a board official said Thursday.

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