SANTA ANA — An Orange County Superior Court commissioner temporarily suspended the licenses of two doctors Monday following the death of a La Habra woman who underwent more than 10 hours of liposuction and plastic surgery.
Commissioner F. Latimer Gould said in his ruling that public health and safety would be threatened if Dr. William Earle Matory and anesthesiologist Dr. Robert Ken Hoo practiced pending the findings of an administrative hearing.
"The fact that the judge gave me the complete restraining order convinces me that we were able to establish that Dr. Matory and Dr. Hoo are dangerous to the public," said Deputy Atty. Gen. Gayle Askren.
According to the complaint filed by the state attorney general's office, Judy Fernandez, 47, bled to death on March 17 during a $20,000 liposuction procedure that removed about 20 pounds of fat from six areas of her body.
Gil Jones, an attorney for Hoo, expressed disappointment with the commissioner's decision, saying, "I think it was really going overboard to do something of this sort, to deprive this young man of his livelihood without first filing an accusation and going through the appropriate steps to fully investigate."
Attorneys for Matory did not return calls Monday.
State Medical Board investigator James Kovash agreed the court commissioner's action could hurt the doctors' livelihood, but maintained it's more important to place the public's safety first, and then find out what happened during Fernandez's surgery.
"I think it's an appropriate remedy," Kovash said. "And the key word here is temporary."
Askren said that once the doctors are served with a statement of formal charges by the medical board, a full hearing before an administrative law judge will take place in Orange County to determine whether to permanently revoke their licenses.
Judy Fernandez's husband, Ruben, was satisfied by the ruling.
"My wife is gone, but at least there is some justice," Fernandez said.
Tammy Miller, an attorney helping Fernandez prepare a presentation to the district attorney, said the restraining orders will increase the likelihood of criminal charges being filed against the doctors.