Surgeon sued by woman over face lift says her lawyer will 'muddy the water' during upcoming trial

By Chandra Lye | Jan 30, 2019

PITTSBURGH — A surgeon has responded to claims of medical negligence by a Washington woman who flew out to receive cosmetic surgery from the physician.

Bianca Piette filed a complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County against Dr. James Fernau and Accent on Body Cosmetic Surgery. She has accused Fernau of professional liability/medical negligence and fraudulent concealment among other charges.

Fernau recently filed a pretrial statement denying the claims. The procedure at issue is a face lift performed in 2015.

“Plaintiff and her lawyer will attempt to muddy the water with several false and libelous allegations that medical records were doctored, claims of an intimate consensual relationship between Plaintiff and Dr. Fernau and also the outrageous claim that Dr. Fernau stole jewelry from her,” according to the statement.

Among Piette’s complaints are that she suffered injuries such as severe headaches, loss of hair, loss of hearing and conversational disability, which she traces back to the procedure. She also alleges she suffered an ear infection from the surgery.

Fernau claims there is no basis for such charges.

“There is absolutely no evidence of Plaintiff experiencing an infection in her left ear,” Fernau wrote in the statement. 

"She was not treated for an infection by Dr. Fernau and received no treatment for an infection when she returned home to Washington after her surgery. In any event, an infection of the middle or inner ear, as claimed by Plaintiff without evidence, does not magically disappear without treatment. 

"It should also not be lost on the court that Plaintiff suffered with ear issues since childhood and hearing issues for at least a decade before Dr. Fernau’s surgery. It is not just coincidence that she experienced hearing loss in 2015 as it was a continuation of her long standing hearing issues."

According to Piette, Fernau did not adequately inform her of the risks of the surgery. That is another accusation that Fernau denies.

According to the pretrial statement, Piette had to travel a long distance to undergo the procedure.

“To suggest that she did not consent to that procedure when she flew over 2,500 miles to have it performed is ridiculous," it says.

The defendants note in the statement that a consent form was signed but “inadvertently lost.” However, they noted that a lost form “does not equate to a lack of consent.”

Regardless, the surgery was done on April 12 without any complications, they say.

”During the surgery, there were periods where Plaintiff became combative, which is a known side effect of sedation," the statement said. "Every medical professional who was in the room during this cosmetic procedure has adamantly denied that she experienced a seizure.”

To support his case, Fernau has put forward expert witnesses, including Dr. Francis Collini.

“It is my opinion, based upon a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that the surgical intervention performed on Ms. Piette by Dr. Fernau was within the accepted standards of care in plastic surgery,” Dr. Collini wrote. "It is also my opinion, based upon a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that each of the allegations in the complaint is without merit."

Piette is seeking a trial by jury, compensation/restitution damages, court costs and any further relief the court finds just.

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