In today’s turbulent and volatile world, lawsuits are quickly becoming the norm for solving crises, controversies, or even simply hurt feelings. While litigation may offer a path to definite resolution for complicated circumstances, many cases are often unnecessarily escalated to court proceedings for a variety of reasons. This holds especially true when it comes to trial lawyers targeting female plaintiffs involved in rare mishaps from cosmetic procedures. Cosmetic surgery and procedures make up a multi-billion-dollar industry. Trial lawyers know it and are increasingly preying on vulnerable Americans who have undergone these procedures and are not satisfied with the result.
Pervasive societal beauty standards are increasingly compelling women to seek out elective treatments and procedures. Some women want to look refreshed, younger, and more youthful. Other women want to transform a body part or make a radical change. Regardless of the procedure or the reason, there are always associated benefits and risks.
One procedure that has received a huge amount of attention from plaintiffs’ attorneys is photopneumatic therapy, commonly known as laser treatment. Sought by individuals with skin irregularities, including acne and scars, this process involves applying healing light onto the concerned parts of the skin to produce a more even skin complexion. A study concluded that a regular application of this non-invasive treatment leads to noticeable difference in skin quality that can last for years.
However, the credibility of this life-changing innovation is being threatened by plaintiff attorneys who are asking courts to judge against known side effects that occurred in a patient. For instance, trial lawyers in Chicago filed a lawsuit in Cook County, Illinois, on behalf of a woman who claimed to have been burned from the cosmetic laser treatment. Similar litigation has been on the rise in the last 10 years. While personal injury is undeniable in some cases, it’s hard to ignore whether the financial interests of trial attorneys play a primary role in this growing litigious trend.
Former supermodel Linda Evangelista, recently filed suit against Zeltiq Aesthetics. According to the filing, the fat-reduction procedure called Coolsculpting, left Evangelista “permanently disfigured” and purportedly deprived her of professional, physical, and mental well-being. With rationale that is forced at best, her legal counsel argues that Zeltiq “failed to adequately warn and/or intentionally concealed the incidence” of an extremely rare side effect known as paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH) that multiples, instead of reduces, fat cells. This is a high-profile example of trial lawyers fanning the flames of misguided litigation against an innovative medical procedure.
The fact is, companies and clinics that develop and administer elective procedures, like laser treatment and Coolsculpting, inform patients of all associated risks and require them to sign consent documents to ensure they will take responsibility for their own informed decision should a side effect happen.
Legal professionals around the country agree that cases involving unsatisfactory cosmetic procedures are difficult to win in court, because typically, a patient must consent beforehand. Regardless of the unfavorable odds associated with such litigation, plaintiffs’ attorneys continue to jump on these cases, add undue stress to their already vulnerable clients, and attack proven medical treatments and procedures for their own financial benefit.
The physical and mental stress of patients who suffer side effects from a procedure is understandable. What is not understandable are trial lawyers taking advantage of these unfortunate situations and twisting them into legal battles that will produce nothing, but distrust towards medical technology and extra cash for themselves.
An attorney must hold the interests of clients top of mind, especially if they are under physical and mental distress from unforeseen health consequences. However, rather than counseling and representing the interests of clients, many trial lawyers are manipulating individuals to pursue litigation in order to elevate their own profits and reputation.
Attorneys take an oath to conduct themselves with integrity and civility while practicing law in our country. The unethical practice of trial lawyers poaching vulnerable plaintiffs to “represent” them in court for their own personal gain flies in the face of this oath. Officers of the Court should be held to the highest standard and not transform our courts into a self-serving, profitable circus.