Plastic surgery firm hit with surveillance litigation

September 25, 2010

Three former employees of a Carmel plastic surgery center have filed a lawsuit alleging the company secretly videotaped them in a basement room they used for changing and spray tanning.

They allege in a suit filed in Hamilton Superior Court in August that Meridian Plastic Surgery Center violated their rights under federal Equal Employment Opportunity laws when it secretly recorded them in various states of undress. The suit claims the video-recording equipment was hidden in a sprinkler system.

It is not the first allegation of surreptitious recording for the firm led by doctors Stephen W. Perkins, Bruce W. Van Natta, Christine L. Kelley and A. Michael Sadove. A lawsuit in August 2009 by Pam Sanders, who ran a spray-tan business at the facility, claimed the same hidden camera had recorded at least 40 clients without their knowledge. That case is pending.

The plaintiffs in the new lawsuit—Patricia Thatcher, Carly Playford and Brooke Snodgrass—are seeking reinstatement of their jobs, lost benefits, attorney’s fees and other relief. Playford was a personnel trainer, Thatcher was aesthetics director, and Snodgrass was a part-time employee, the seven-page lawsuit filed Aug. 19 says.

The suit says the firm effectively dismissed the employees—each hired in late 2008—after they began asking questions about whether they were being recorded without their consent by a camera that allowed video clips to be downloaded to data storage devices.

According to the suit, Meridian first denied but later acknowledged there had been a camera in the room. It names Meridian Plastic Surgery Center and each of the doctors individually.

Attorney James D. Masur of Indianapolis-based Robert W. York & Associates, who represents the three former employees, did not return a phone message. The same firm represents the other former employee who sued Meridian in a separate case.

An attorney for the plastic surgery center, Baker & Daniels LLP partner Edward E. Hollis, said the company’s response due Oct. 18 will describe the claims as “baseless.” He would not elaborate, citing a policy against discussing ongoing litigation.

Mary Anne Price, practice administrator for Meridian Plastic Surgery Center, said the firm is looking forward to the whole story coming out. She said clients remain confident they are not being recorded at the facility and “realize the circumstances” surrounding the lawsuits. She would not elaborate.

“We certainly are not concerned about the allegations,” she said. “We’re just hoping to have our day in court and show everything.”•


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