MANHATTAN (CN) – Suing for $100 million in damages, a New York plastic surgeon says the reporters ruined his practice by telling viewers that he kept patients drugged for days at a time in his waiting room.
WPIX 11 ran the segment "Inside New York’s Dangerous Cosmetic Surgery Loophole" on July 29, 2014, but Dr. Ayman Shahine says it has reaired numerous times since then and remains available online.
“The segment was intended to make plaintiff a scapegoat for the shadowy cosmetic surgery practices in and around the city of New York,” according to the complaint, filed March 9 in Manhattan Supreme Court.
Shahine, of Brooklyn, notes that he began his career in obstetrics and gynecology but has been practicing liposuctions and other cosmetic surgeries for the past 15 years out of his office on West 34th Street in Manhattan.
WPIX told its viewers that Shahine was exploiting a legal loophole that lets any MD perform any surgery, in "uninspected and unsanitary" offices.
“He’s not a plastic surgeon,” “He’s actually an OB-GYN who’s been sued for malpractice multiple times and now runs a midtown plastic surgery mill that operates round the clock for cash.”
The segment emphasized that Shahine could lure patients toward risky cosmetic operations because his celebrity clientele included Nya Lee of VH1's "Love & Hip Hop" and Renee Graziano from VH1's "Mob Wives.”
Shahine calls out three “false and defamatory statements” made about him in the broadcast.
One, that "Dr. Shahine worked around the clock, keeping them (the patients) drugged with pills doled out by non-medical personnel.”
Two, that “a patient, Lavern Gordon, claimed there were 6 patients ahead of her, and they had been sleeping in the office for at least three to four days.”
And three, that “Dr. Shahine performed these surgeries in uninspected and unaccredited and unsanitary office-based surgery suites in his office."
“By its actions, WPIX intentionally or recklessly caused emotional distress and financial ruin,” Shahine says.
Accusing WPIX of violating professional standards of journalism, Shahine says the reporters consciously chose not to contact prior patients of his who could have debunked the segment's claims.
Shahine also says he was not contacted by WPIX for comment prior to the broadcast.
Now other doctors and cosmetic surgeons are using the WPIX segment, according to the complaint, to bolster their own credibility and steer business their way, away from Shahine.
Shahine contends that the surgical procedures he performed were “medically sound.” He says he “has developed innovative techniques of liposuction, liposculpture, laser and smart lipo, fat harvesting and fat grafting in his cosmetic surgery practice."
The 11-page complaint seeks $100 million in damages for defamation and intentional infliction of emotion distress.
Shahine also wants a "take down" of the segment from the internet, as any online search of his name brings up the damaging article on Google.
WPIX reported that New York law allows cosmetic surgeries to be performed in uninspected operating rooms, provided that the doctors use only local anesthesia and “mild sedation.”
“Liposuction amounts must be kept below 500 ml, about 2 cups,” the report said.
Representatives from WPIX have not returned a request for comment Friday afternoon.
Shahine is represented by Pamela Roth.
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