Dismissal of 2013 Lawsuit Alleging Damaging Plastic Surgery Patient Safety Advertising Affirmed by US Court of Appeals
Lawsuit alleged that patient-safety education and messaging caused direct financial damage to non-plastic surgeons
The 10th District U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 31 affirmed the September 2013 dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a group of non-plastic surgeons calling themselves "cosmetic surgeons" against the Utah Plastic Surgery Society, ASPS, the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) – as well as 19 individual plastic surgeons – that alleged patient-safety education advertisements amounted to monopolistic efforts and messaging that caused direct financial damage to the non-plastic surgeons.
The plaintiffs claimed that the Utah Society's advertising – specifically billboards and media interviews modeled after the ASPS "Do Your Homework" campaign – were in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act and asserted false advertising claims in violation of the Lanham Act. The plaintiffs claimed the campaign was deceptive by indicating that cosmetic surgery is safer when performed by ABPS-certified plastic surgeons rather than "cosmetic surgeons."
The Appeals Court concluded that the plaintiffs failed to show any plausible antitrust or deceptive advertising violation and affirmed the previous ruling in favor of UPSS, ASPS, ABPS and the individual plastic surgeons named in the lawsuit.
"This decision further confirms the value and importance of our efforts to provide public awareness on the distinctions between ABPS-certified plastic surgeons and lesser-trained physicians who present themselves as similarly skilled," says UPSS President Brian Brzowski, MD. "We were helped tremendously by ASPS through its early financial and material support and its guidance in crafting the overall 'Do Your Homework' effort."
"The public safety education campaign was modeled largely after the ASPS campaign," adds UPSS immediate past President Trenton Jones, MD. "And it's a huge win for the patient-safety efforts in our state."
ASPS acknowledges Dr. Brzowski, Dr. Jones and the Utah Plastic Surgery Society for their efforts to both bring the ASPS "Do Your Homework" campaign to their state and defend the patient-education efforts.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. Representing more than 11,000 physician members worldwide, the society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 92 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.