Woman Sues Houston Doc After Son Allegedly Finds Topless Photos on Office Website [UPDATED]
Update, 3 p.m. August 23, 2016: See below for an update on the case.
A Virginia woman has sued a Houston plastic surgeon for allegedly uploading pictures of her before-and-after breast reconstruction surgery without her consent or knowledge, leading to her 12-year-old son supposedly stumbling across the pics during a Google search.
In a civil filing that raises a ton of questions, the woman — identified as Jane Doe — claims that the surgeon, Pierre Chevray, treated her for breast cancer at MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2004, but that he later uploaded her pictures to his private practice's site.
According to the complaint, Chevray "specifically promised" the woman that the photos "would not be used on the internet" and that "there would be no way to identify the photographs as her own. Plaintiff was told by the Defendant that the pictures taken of her would remain part of her confidential MD Anderson plastic surgery file."
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Alas, according to the suit, the woman's son returned from a birthday party in June 2013 "and indicated that an internet search via Google utilizing Plaintiff's name as a search term and performed by kids at the birthday party had disclosed Plaintiff's topless before and after photographs taken at Defendant's office." We must say, that has to be the lamest birthday party ever if the entertainment revolved not around a clown or swimming pool or petting zoo but Googling your mom. Eeeww.
Jane Doe alleges that the photos were saved as an attachment under her name, so that when the pics were uploaded, her name was "linked on the internet to the topless before and after photos." Thus, anyone searching the woman's name would hit on a link to Chevray's site. (The photos currently displayed on Chevray's site do not appear to have been saved under patients' names.)
Chevray filed a general denial, supplemented by a bunch of reasons he shouldn't have to pay a ton of money in the "unlikely event" he's found liable. (These include Chevray's contention that he should be "entitled to a credit or offset for any and all sums" Jane Doe receives; and that he should be allowed to pay in installments rather than a lump sum.)
Jane Doe's attorneys were not immediately available for comment. Her lawyers include Neil H. Bruntrager of St. Louis, whose website profile states, "When a high-profile individual is forced to address a legal matter in the media spotlight, Neil Bruntrager is often hired to handle the case. Because of Bruntrager's legal expertise and his philosophy of avoiding publicity, prominent clients turn to him when they need legal help. 'At Bruntrager & Billings, we keep the focus on the client and refuse to get distracted by the media circus,' Bruntrager explains."
Since this suit was already covered in the Houston Chronicle, Daily Mail, Cosmopolitan and other publications, we think it may be difficult not to be distracted.
Update: A Harris County District Court Judge granted Chevray's motion for summary judgment on January 6, 2016. Lawyers for Jane Doe have filed a notice of appeal.
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