Lawsuit filed against doctor following death of artist behind Denver’s ‘Big Blue Bear’

DENVER -- A lawsuit filed Thursday alleges a doctor contributed to the death of a well-known Denver artist.

According to the lawsuit, Lawrence Nigel Argent died Oct. 4, 2017, one day after he underwent liposuction surgery.

Argent is known for creating "I See What You Mean," the large sculpture outside the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver also known as the "Big Blue Bear."

The plaintiffs in the case are Argent's two teenage sons -- both of whom are currently attending college -- and the court-appointed representative of Argent's estate.

The lawsuit alleges that the 60-year-old began to "medically deteriorate" following complications suffered during a Vaser Hi-Def Liposuction procedure.

The plaintiffs argue that Argent died of cardiac arrest due to the botched surgery.

"I don’t see how this happened. It’s alarming and it still feels like a nightmare," said Anne Argent, the ex-wife of Lawrence Argent.

Dr. John Millard is named as the defendant in the case as well as Lynsey Jolain Conder, a registered nurse employed by Millard.

Additionally, the lawsuit lists Dr. Dan Charles Rogers, an anesthesiologist, as a defendant. Rogers is said to have been present during Argent's procedure.

The attorney who filed the lawsuit said Argent's  medical team ignored obvious warning signs their patient was in distress. "After the  procedure was over he continued to bleed excessively to the extent that they had to put drains in him and empty the drains a whole bunch of times, said David Woodruff of the Denver Trial Lawyers firm, "If he had been sent to the ER based on the fact that he was still bleeding, he’d be alive today."

The "Big Blue Bear" outside the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver. Credit: Getty Images

Factual allegations leveled by the plaintiffs claim that Argent was healthy but wanted "body contouring" because he was a public figure.

Argent's sons also say that the artist exhibited signs and symptoms of medical complications during and after the procedure; those complications, they claim, include pain, unstable blood pressure, unstable oxygen saturation levels, inability to void, and tachycardia.

The artist was discharged but continued to experience pain, his sons said.

The day after he was discharged, Argent's girlfriend called Millard and said that the patient was in too much pain to go to his follow-up appointment. Millard, they said, offered little medical advice and Argent collapsed roughly three hours after the call was placed to Millard.

Argent was taken to the Emergency Room at Rose Medical Center where he was found to be in cardiopulmonary arrest with kidney failure and hyperkalemia.

"A CT scan was performed at Rose Medical Center which showed hypoperfusion to the liver, spleen, and bowel, and also free air in the abdomen and blood pooled in the abdomen," the lawsuit alleges.

Argent's sons claim that the defendants' negligence directly caused their father's death.

The plaintiffs also say the death of their father caused them to "suffer economic and non-economic damages, including medical expenses, loss of earnings, and the grief, sorrow and emotional loss.

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