Victims of Military Med-Mal May Get Their Day in Court; More

Wayne J. Guglielmo, MA

Disclosures

February 25, 2019

In This Article

Doctor Suing Doctor Adds Punitive Damages to Lawsuit

The potential damages in a medical malpractice suit brought by an Oregon patient who is herself a doctor jumped dramatically last month after a judge ruled in favor of the plaintiff's motion to allow punitive damages to be applied in the case, says a story in the Albany Democrat-Herald, among other news outlets.[5]

In 2013, Gina Anderson, a Corvallis neurologist who specializes in pain management, went to a local neurologist, the owner of Plaza Medi Spa, a dermatologic practice, for cosmetic filler injections to smooth wrinkles in her right cheek. In her suit, Anderson claims that the neurologist assured her that the injections were either Restylane or Juvéderm, both approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the cosmetic purpose Anderson sought.[6]

Four years later, in December 2017, Anderson says that a tumor-like mass began growing on her right cheek, causing "pain, disfigurement, disability, and reduction in vision." The pain specialist had the mass surgically removed, during which a number of smaller "granulomatous" masses were also detected. According to her claim, a subsequent pathology report found that the main mass and the smaller ones were a consequence of silicone injections, which are not FDA-approved as facial fillers, according to Anderson's attorneys.

Anderson alleges that she has suffered "severe scarring and disfigurement," has required multiple remedial surgeries, and was forced to temporarily suspend her practice.

She initially asked for a judgment of $7 million to $2.5 million for pain and suffering and other noneconomic damages, and $4.5 million in economic damages. Later, her attorney filed a motion requesting an additional $10 million in punitive damages.

After deferring his decision on that motion in order to give Plaza Medi Spa's attorney time to contest it, Judge Matthew Donohue, on December 18, upheld his August decision and granted the plaintiff's motion to put punitive damages on the table in the case. With that, Anderson's attorneys promptly filed an amended claim that sought a $17 million total award.

For her part, the defendant denies the allegations against her, arguing, among other things, that the plaintiff's injuries may have been caused by Anderson's own negligence or "by injecting various substances into her own face."[5]

The neurologist, who now lives in Utah, closed Plaza Medi Spa effective December 31, 2018, according to the practice website.

A hearing in the case has been scheduled for February 26.

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