‘My 600-lb Life’ TV Show Faces $1 Million Lawsuit Following Patient’s Suicide
The family of a man who committed suicide after appearing on the reality television series, “My 600-lb Life,” has filed a negligence lawsuit against the show’s production company. The lawsuit, filed in Houston’s Harris County District Court, alleges that James Bonner Jr. did not receive adequate mental health treatment following his dramatic 300-pound weight loss.
Bonner’s parents are reportedly seeking over $1 million in damages from the show’s production company, Megalomedia Inc.
According to court filings, “My 600-lb. Life” follows the medical journeys of morbidly obese individuals — each weighing more than 600 pounds — and “documents their attempts to reduce their weight to a healthy level.” The Bonners claim the show exploited their son for financial gain and, though he expressed suicidal thoughts repeatedly, only provided him with a therapist on one occasion. The suit cites both actions as constituting gross negligence.
Additionally, the suit claims the production company failed to fulfill a promise to “pay for all charges” related to a gastric bypass surgery Bonner Jr. underwent. As a result, the suit alleges he was subjected to harassment from multiple debt collectors for unpaid medical bills related to the surgery. Additionally, the lawsuit states that patients who undergo such surgery are “much more likely to suffer depression and commit suicide,” and specifically cites studies from the New England Journal of Medicine to support their claim.
More specifically, the complaint alleges:
“Despite this literature [studies from the New England Journal of Medicine and the American Journal of Medicine], and although defendants were now in their sixth season of the show and thus had extensive experience with many participants…defendants provided absolutely no mental health assistance to [Bonner Jr.].”
Moreover, the suit claims that the production company’s failure to provide necessary mental health assistance “aggravated the situation.”
Bonner Jr. killed himself in August 2018. At the time of his death, he was 30-years-old. The suit makes two additional allegations concerning negligence over Bonner’s mental health:
-The show should have mandated that all patients receive psychological evaluation before surgery, in addition to providing follow-up mental health services throughout production of the show.
-The show’s production company, Megalomedia, should have trained its employees to recognize suicidal tendencies and behaviors in subjects.
Anthony Buzbee of the Houston-based Buzbee Law Firm is representing the Bonner family.