Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Staten Island surgeon sues Renee Graziano from Mob Wives for $77 million dollars

"Mob Wives" reality-TV star Renee Graziano allegedly told the world a "full-body lift" performed by a plastic surgeon nearly dropped her six feet in a grave.

The Oakwood resident wanted to nip and tuck some fat and sagging skin, but instead claimed to have "flat-lined" and "almost died" after Dr. Andrew Klapper put her under the knife.

She called the procedure, broadcast on the show, a "plastic surgery nightmare."

Ms. Graziano, 43, the daughter of reputed Bonanno crime family consigliere Anthony (TG) Graziano of Huguenot, allegedly told media outlets she lost six pints of blood and underwent emergency treatment at Staten Island University Hospital.

Dr. Klapper, who denies any medical error, struck back with a $77 million defamation lawsuit against Ms. Graziano, VH1 and the show's producers. The action was filed in Brooklyn state Supreme Court.

Klapper was gashed recently when Justice Bernard J. Graham dismissed his case against VH1 and the producers. He said the Manhattan-based surgeon had signed a release barring him from suing those defendants.

"Seemingly wildly popular, this genre [of TV show] offers opportunities for embarrassing and insulting participants and the more outlandish the conduct, the higher the ratings," the judge wrote. "... The medical professional who agrees to participate in such as program does so with a certain amount of risk.

"While the potential benefit may be a boost in the doctor's business from the exposure to the viewing audience, the risk is that he or she may be criticized or second-guessed and portrayed in an unflattering manner."

The case against Ms. Graziano and a former employee of Dr. Klapper's was allowed to proceed. Court papers indicate Ms. Graziano is representing herself.

"We were both very disappointed, and we felt Judge Graham expanded dramatically the purpose of the appearance lease my client had signed," said Barry Levin, Dr. Klapper's Garden City, L.I.-based lawyer. "The judge gave these reality shows carte blanche to destroy people's lives."

According to court documents, the procedure was performed and filmed on June 27, 2011, in Dr. Klapper's office. He practiced on Staten Island at the time.

The operation cost anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000, according to published reports.

Ms. Graziano allegedly developed complications after Dr. Klapper removed a tattoo on her lower back and the skin couldn't be closed, said court records. Dr. Klapper ordered the TV cameras removed from the operating area.

What happened afterward is in dispute.

Ms. Graziano claimed to have bled badly, losing six pints, said court records. She said she required emergency medical treatment at University Hospital.

Dr. Klapper denied any wrongdoing.

The surgery became part of the "Mob Wives" storyline and was discussed in the second season's first three episodes

Ms. Graziano said she had "flat-lined" and "almost died" and branded the experience a "plastic-surgery nightmare," said court documents.

"I went in beautiful and I came out ugly," published reports quote her as saying.

Ms. Graziano discussed the procedure on several other TV and radio programs and alleged medical negligence, said court filings.

Dr. Klapper maintained VH1 and the producers publicized the "knowingly false" statements in a campaign to boost ratings. Those statements, made on shows such as "Today" and "Anderson Cooper" months after surgery, formed the crux of the lawsuit, said Levin, Dr. Klapper's lawyer.

"He did not sue based upon anything that took place on the ("Mob Wives") show. He sued her for going on other shows and making those outrageous claims. It was all done at the behest of Weinstein," said Levin, referring to the Weinstein Company, which owns "Mob Wives." rights.

The judge, however, ruled the release Dr. Klapper signed allows the producers to use his appearance on the show "for advertising, publicity, marketing, promotional and commercial tie-in purposes."

"To a certain extent, he bargained for the chance for publicity with the possibility that the outcome may not be as he expected," the judge wrote.

He added there was no evidence VH1 or the producers intended to discredit or defame Dr. Klapper or had deliberately tried to destroy his practice.

Dr. Klapper also alleged Ms. Graziano filed a false complaint against him with the state Office of Professional Medical Conduct. Online agency records show no disciplinary action has been taken against the doctor.

Levin said the Professional Medical Conduct Office investigated Ms. Graziano's allegations and dismissed them.

Meanwhile, the judge couldn't resist a poke at reality-TV viewers.

"There does not seem to be a bottom to the viewing public's appetite for this brand of entertainment," he wrote.

Attempts to reach Ms. Graziano and the lawyer for the other defendants were not immediately successful."



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