Mandi Stillwell, 39, underwent a ‘tummy-tuck’ and ‘breast augmentation’ procedure. She had given consent for ‘before and after’ photos to be taken, but not posted online.
Apparently, the surgery was successful because five months later, via an online dating service, Stillwell was shocked when a man she met told her that he had discovered photographs of her bare breasts with a simple Google Images search of her name. Thereafter, Stillwell claimed that surgeon Dr. Enraquita Lopez violated an agreement to keep medical information confidential after leaking pictures relating to an operation.
“I had lots of anxiety, lost a lot a sleep and cried a lot,” Stillwell told the jury in Fresno’s County Superior Court. She sought $300,000 in damages.
The legal filing noted that Lopez, working for Aesthetic Laser Centre, was indeed given permission to take “before and after” pictures – but Stillwell later claimed that did not permit them to be posted online.
Court Case Over Privacy Issues
Dr. Lopez’s attorney confirmed the images were made available via a search of the patient’s name but stressed that the clinic had worked hard to take them offline after being contacted on 15 August 2013. However, they claimed that $300,000 in damages was too high because the defendant had been “proudly” showing off her body on Facebook after the operation. But describing herself to the court, Stillwell said that she had been abused as a child and was formerly involved in a violent marriage.
“I definitely have intimacy issues,” she told the jury, as reported by the Miami Herald.
“I find it difficult to be naked in front of men. I had trouble looking in the mirror. I see myself like I’m a monster,” she continued, later adding that she thought cosmetic surgery would help.
Damages For Unwillingly Showing Breasts
Stillwell’s attorney, Arvin Lugay, said: “The unauthorized publication of personally identifiable patient photographs on the internet can be very damaging to the well-being and reputation of patients, especially those who have an internet business or presence.
“When something like that happens, doctors need to be held accountable when they fail in their affirmative duty to protect the privacy of those patients.”
Unknown to the defendants, Ball says, the manner in which the photographs were saved and uploaded made them searchable by the patient’s name. Stillwell called the doctor and her staff on Aug. 15, 2013. Lopez took the photographs off the company website immediately, Ball said, and took a few days to make sure “the photos were no longer searchable.”
Stillwell testified that though the photographs came down within a week, the incident caused her to have increased anxiety and miss work. She said she became depressed, withdrawn and irritable, constantly worrying if men had seen her breasts online and were “gawking at me.”
The court awarded $18,000 in damages.