SALEM, Ore. (CN) – A phone-book publisher is liable for the injuries caused by a patient’s botched liposuction job because it falsely advertised the doctor as a “board certified” plastic surgeon, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled.
M.M. Knepper chose to have cosmetic surgery and selected Dr. Timothy Brown and the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery to perform the work.
A sales representative for Dex Media Inc. suggested that Brown’s advertisement appear in the Yellow Pages under “plastic surgery” with the words “board certified” in the advertisement. Brown is certified as a dermatologist, but not as a plastic surgeon.
Despite the worries of his office manager over the advertisement’s misleading nature, Brown approved the advertisement.
Knepper sued after the surgery, and after an expert witness called her injuries an “uncorrectable disaster,” the trial court awarded Knepper $1.5 million against Brown and Dex Media. The Court of Appeals and Justice Gillette upheld the ruling.
“It is clear that the plaintiff’s damages reasonably might be expected to result from their reliance on Dex’s representations,” Gillette wrote. “The publisher took a knowing and active role in the perpetration of the fraud.”