Gross injustice: Insurers abandon boob job class action

 

Hundreds of women who had "one size fits all" boob jobs at a chain of scandal-plagued cosmetic clinics have been abandoned by medical insurers who have pulled their insurance cover.

The lawyer for the almost 1000 women involved in the country's first class action against the booming cosmetic surgery industry said all patients should be able to go to health practitioners and clinics knowing that they are covered by medical malpractice insurance.

"This is a gross injustice. The insurers have virtually pulled the plug," Turner Freeman partner Sally Gleeson said yesterday.

"All my clients are really distressed."

Amy Lee Rickhuss, who suffered a cardiac arrest after undergoing cosmetic breast surgery in 2015. Picture: Facebook
Amy Lee Rickhuss, who suffered a cardiac arrest after undergoing cosmetic breast surgery in 2015. Picture: Facebook


The Cosmetic Institute clinics have been accused in the lawsuit of being run like a "fast food franchise" allegedly giving the women the same type of implants in identical operations regardless of their size or breast shape. Many of the women were able to pay the operation off at $5 a day.

The women are also suing TCI ex- director and plastic surgeon Eddy Dona who it is alleged was responsible for designing, implementing and supervising the company's approach to breast augmentation surgery and trained the doctors who carried out the operations.

All doctors must take out medical malpractice insurance to protect their patients and themselves and this case is now being seen as a wake-up call for the industry.

The Supreme Court has been told that the clinics are now no longer covered by their insurers who have claimed the clinics did not behave in compliance with their insurance policies. Dr Dona's insurer also claims that he did not provide a "health care service".

Ms Rickhuss had to be brought back to life after suffering cardiac arrest while undergoing a breast enlargement. Picture: Facebook
Ms Rickhuss had to be brought back to life after suffering cardiac arrest while undergoing a breast enlargement. Picture: Facebook

There was evidence the clinics were covered by Allied World Insurance and Newline Australia Insurance.

"This highlights the attitude of some insurance companies in letting people down. I believe that these insurers are wrongly trying to escape their liability," Ms Gleeson said.

 

The decision has been described as an injustice. Picture: Facebook
The decision has been described as an injustice. Picture: Facebook

 

"My interests are ensuring that we get justice for these women."

It means that if the women are successful in the class action, there would be no money to pay for reconstructive surgery if needed. The case was due to begin in August but now the women have amended their statement of claim to sue each of the 11 cosmetic surgeons working at the clinics.

"This is horrible for the women who just want this to end. A lot of them are in terrible pain and they just want to get fixed," Ms Gleeson said.

Two of the women, Amy Rickhuss, 24, and a 42-year-old, were rushed to hospital after they had to be resuscitated on the operating table at two of the company's clinics at Parramatta and Bondi Junction.

The now-closed TCI clinics were at Parramatta, TCI Bondi Junction, Concord Private Hospital, Holroyd Private Hospital and at TCI Southport in Queensland.

Allied World Insurance and Newline Australia Insurance did not return requests for comment. Dr Dona, who is defending his role, still works as a plastic surgeon at his Bella Vista clinic.

Originally published as Gross injustice: Insurers abandon boob job class action


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