St. Louis Woman Whose Pics Were Used in Ad May Seek More Damages

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Medical Malpractice on Thursday, January 5, 2012

A former resident of the St. Louis metropolitan area who said she never gave permission for naked images of her torso to appear in a local newspaper in 2006 will have the chance to pursue further damages against the cosmetic surgery clinic that provided the pictures. A panel of judges from the 8th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled on Dec. 28 that the woman is entitled to ask a new jury to award punitive damages against the clinic and the doctors who treated her.

After the woman, who was identified in court as “Jane Doe,” successfully lost a great deal of weight, she went to Body Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and Skin Care Center in Creve Coeur, Missouri, for surgery to remove excess skin around her abdomen. As part of her treatment, medical professionals took photographs of her torso before and after the operation.

Those photographs later turned up in a 2006 article in the Riverfront Times newspaper about cosmetic surgery. The patient found out about the publication of the photographs and sued Body Aesthetic and three doctors from the clinic, alleging that she never gave permission to use the photographs and that the defendants misused her medical information.

The case went to trial in November 2009. The jury awarded the patient $100,000 in damages, but did not award any punitive damages. The patient appealed, arguing that the jury should have heard testimony from the reporter who wrote the article that refuted one defendant’s claim that the reporter had promised not to publish the photos.

The federal appellate court agreed. It directed the court to convene a new jury to hear the narrow question of whether the defendants should pay punitive damages on the plaintiff’s breach of fiduciary duty claim. One of the judges, writing in the minority, said that the plaintiff should have gotten an entirely new trial.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Nude pics lawsuit against St. Louis-area doctors will go back to court,” Robert Patrick, Dec. 28, 2011

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