Former celebrity fitness instructor-turned-motivational speaker and inventor of the popular “Turbo-Jam” and “Pi-Yo” workouts, Chalene Johnson, describes how in August of 2021, she underwent several plastic surgery procedures—having her breasts reduced in size and her c- section scar revisited. While Chalene claims to have done her research, she vocally regrets that no matter how good your research is, you’re not going to know much about the plastic surgeon as a professional or as a person.
During the consultation, the doctor asked Chalene Johnson to strip naked and he ripped her gown open. The doctor requested that Chalene stand in front of a full-length mirror in his office, then pulled down her underwear to reveal her c-section scar. He stepped behind her and placed his left arm over her, cupping her right breast and touching her left breast with his forearm.
He then put his right arm around her body and touched her c-section scar, which she found pretty uncomfortable. It’s alleged the doctor made a comment regarding her butt and other physical looks, which made her feel uneasy and insulted. It became more absurd when he referred to her as “babe.”
Although uncomfortable, Johnson went ahead with the surgery and said afterwards the results of the procedure left her disfigured.
Chalene Johnson has publicly stated on social media, “this nightmare has cost me countless business opportunities, it has taken me away from my passions and disrupted my life, it has cost me followers and advertising partnerships.”
Who is Liable and for What?
A civil lawsuit has been filed, in the State of California, Orange County Superior Court, Case No. 30-2021-01226133-CU-DF-CJC which holds the official record.
Chalene Johnson’s story was withdrawn within hours of publication because of legal concerns. “But I will not be deterred,” Chalene says. “I republished my version—despite the legal threats. This message must be heard, and changes must be made to the medical industry. And I’m determined to do just that.”
“If a patient is injured during a medical procedure, the doctor and any other medical professionals may be liable to the patient, even if the surgery was otherwise carried out and performed flawlessly. A victims’ injuries at the hands of a doctor can leave them in misery and, and that misery is worth something to Chalene, and others like her”, says Ben Mehdian, Partner & Founder of Power Trial Lawyers, P.C., a personal injury trial law firm with offices in Los Angeles, California.
Victims continue to suffer in silence, and in July 2021, the Los Angeles Times published a devastating report on the governmental agency that should police California’s physicians. It highlighted how the Medical Board of California has consistently been lenient with doctors who have maimed and other times factually murdered patients due to negligence or other professional ineptitude.
Rather than suspending a doctor’s medical licenses, the Board has permitted doctors to continue working (e.g., operating and performing life-threatening surgeries) on probation, according to the Los Angeles Times piece.
Attorney Mathew Barhoma of Power Trial Lawyers, P.C. says “California law fully supports a victims right to seek compensation, and I typically see people being dismissed, manipulated, and misled when it comes to a doctors attempts to deprive a person of their financial rights. Those people become clients of Power Trial Lawyers, and we take care of them because right is right, and wrong is wrong. Let a judge and jury decide who is responsible, and don’t take the doctors word when it’s clear they don’t care about you.”
Is There a Difference Between Malpractice and Personal Injury?
A medical malpractice liability claim is a personal injury lawsuit that allows you to sue a health care provider for injuries you sustained due to medical negligence or error. In a medical malpractice case, it’s shown that a doctor or other health care provider failed to meet the expected standard of care during a patient’s treatment.
A personal injury claim is a legal case that allows you to recover damages from someone when their carelessness or negligence causes physical injuries. In a personal injury claim, the attorney must demonstrate that the at-fault party behaved in a way that caused bodily harm.
Chalene Johnson continues to fight and give a voice to women who have been injured or disfigured at the hands of doctors they put their trust in.
What Can We Expect to See Next?
When you suffer damage due to a doctor’s negligence in California, you could soon get better compensation in malpractice lawsuits than before. If the state Legislature approves this, it will avoid a costly ballot campaign and fight at the polls this November – all while resolving one of the state’s longest-running political battles.
California does not set a cap on how much money patients can recover in malpractice cases for economic damages, including medical expenditures and lost earnings. However, since 1975, state law has limited the money patients can win for unquantifiable damages, such as pain and suffering, to a maximum of $250,000.
For decades, trial attorneys and patient advocacy groups have pushed and failed to raise that amount, pointing out that it can oftentimes cost more than that limit to even take one of these cases to trial. Doctors have long opposed any limit increase, claiming doing so would skyrocket malpractice insurance prices, potentially forcing some community health clinics out of business.
With neither side willing to budge, California voters are set to decide the matter in November 2022. A ballot proposition would allow voters to correlate the ceiling of the cap to inflation, immediately raising the maximum to around $1.2 million. The two sides have raised almost $35 million in what is likely to be one of the most hotly contested ballot measure campaigns this year.