PITTSBURGH – In recently filed litigation, a rhinoplasty patient alleges photos of her in a pre-operative and operative state were taken and published publicly without her consent by her doctor and his medical office.
Nicolette S. Lepresti of Westmoreland County filed suit in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas on July 11 versus James L. Fernau M.D. and Accent on Body Cosmetic Surgery, both of Pittsburgh.
On or about Oct. 17, 2016, plaintiff came to Fernau’s office complaining of difficulty breathing through her nose. Fernau diagnosed Lepresti with a deviated septum, hypertrophy of her nasal turbinates, several nasal obstruction and nasal vestibular stenosis – and recommended a rhinoplasty operation to correct these issues.
During this consultation, Fernau and/or a member of his staff took pre-operative photographs of Lepresti. Further, the plaintiff signed a document titled “Consent for Purposes of Treatment, Payment and Healthcare Operations”, which included the phrase: “I agree for my image to be used for my medical record, but NOT FOR medical publication.”
On Nov. 11, Lepresti signed a consent form to undergo the rhinoplasty procedure. Before the operation, Fernau repeatedly asked Lepresti to give consent for the defendants to create and distribute photographs and video of her procedure for the medical community and the public, pressuring her to sign a document to that effect.
Lepresti refused, and declined to sign the release form.
The rhinoplasty procedure took place on Nov. 17 and photos were taken of Lepresti and posted to various social media accounts belonging to the defendants, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, both individually and as part of a collage of other procedures performed by Fernau.
“The photographs were not taken for any medical purpose and were not included in plaintiff’s medical chart. Rather, the photographs were taken to promote and/or publicize the medical practice of defendant Fernau and/or defendant AOB and for the defendants’ own economic gain,” the lawsuit states.
The photographs and social media postings were public and seen by thousands of individuals, the suit says.
On Jan. 25, plaintiff requested her medical records from Fernau’s office and then discovered that the social media postings containing said photos were deleted. Lepresti received no compensation for the photos in question.
For counts of invasion of privacy/appropriation of likeness, wrongful disclosure of confidential medical information, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, the plaintiff is seeking damages that exceed the arbitration limits of the Court, and a jury trial in this matter.
The plaintiff is represented by Neil R. Rosen and Andrew G. Rothey of Rosen Louik & Perry, in Pittsburgh.
Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas case GD-17-7654
From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at firstname.lastname@example.org