The family of Heather Meadows, a West Virginia woman who died of complications of plastic surgery in May, has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against a Hialeah-based plastic surgery center and its affiliates.
"We want justice for Heather, her babies and her family," said Suzanna Wilson, who has been Heather’s friend for 17 years. "We want people to be aware of what’s happened and hear our story. We know Heather is not coming back, but we want this to stop."
The suit filed by Tammy Meadows, the victim’s mother, against Encore Plastic Surgery Inc., Eres South Florida Plastic Surgery, and Eres Cosmetic Surgery Inc., alleges that Encore didn’t have "adequate policies and procedures in place" for dealing with the medical emergency that killed her.
Meadows died after a Brazilian Butt Lift – that’s a popular procedure where fat is taken from the stomach or back and is injected into the patient’s backside, leaving the appearance of a larger, firmer behind.
The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner ruled her death was caused by what’s known as a fat embolism. That is a known complication of a Brazilian Butt Lift when the fat is injected, often too deeply, into the body hitting blood vessels. Once the fat gets into the bloodstream, it can cause a person to stop breathing. It sent Heather Meadows into cardiac arrest.
Other claims in the lawsuit include failing to follow acceptable standards of care and fraudulently filling out medical forms as well as employing unskilled nurses, doctors and other health care providers to perform surgery on patients.
The NBC 6 Investigators have found the clinic being sued has changed its name three times in nine years.
Encore, formerly known as IQuest Plastic Surgery Inc., dissolved in September and changed its name to Eres South Florida Plastic Surgery Inc. The suit claims that Encore’s registered agent and corporate officers shut down the corporation, changed name and transferred assets to the new corporation after Meadows attorneys filed a claim and "this entity was aware that the filing of a lawsuit was imminent."
“The transfer of assets from Eres South Florida Plastic Surgery Inc., to Eres Cosmetic Surgery Inc. was done for the purpose with intent to hinder, delay and defraud creditors,” the lawsuit reads.
The NBC 6 Investigators have found Meadows is one of seven women who have died of fat embolisms at the hands of different surgeons in South Florida since 2010 after undergoing a Brazilian Butt Lift.
A mother of two small children, Meadows, 29, traveled to Miami with her longtime friend, Amanda Rogers, to have the procedure done by Dr. James McAdoo.
McAdoo is not a party to the lawsuit, according to Herb Borroto, a Coral Gables-based attorney who filed the suit on behalf of Meadows family. McAdoo, who since has moved to work at another plastic surgery clinic, did not return our request for comment. He’s previously stressed that Meadows died after the surgery was over.
Alexandra Lopez, an attorney who represents Encore and Eres, wrote in a statement emailed to NBC 6 Investigators the lawsuit is full of "lies and discrepancies" and said "no evidence has been presented." She says Encore will file a motion to dismiss the complaint as a bad faith filing.
"Florida’s medical malpractice statute requires that a plaintiff provide a medical expert’s opinion stating that there was malpractice before a lawsuit is filed," Lopez wrote. "To this day, the plaintiffs' attorney has not provided a single medical expert’s opinion as required by statute."
The lawsuit also claims that Encore was negligent because it failed to perform an adequate pre-operative evaluation and assessment during Meadows’ visit on May 11. Instead, "Meadows was given various forms to sign and was not seen or examined by any physician," the suit says.
Rogers gave a similar description.
“We assumed the pre-op meeting was going to be with the doctor, but when we got there, the pre-op only consisted of filling out paperwork, paying the rest of our money and being weighed in,” said Rogers. “That was it. They said Dr. McAdoo was too busy and we’d just speak to him in the morning.”
Both friends were supposed to have the popular cosmetic surgery done the next day.
Rogers said Meadows went in for surgery first while she waited. But soon she was told there was a change in plans for her.
"A nurse comes in and tells me they’re going to have to re-schedule my appointment for tomorrow because there was an emergency and Dr. McAdoo had to go to the hospital," Rogers said.
That emergency involved her friend Heather but Rogers didn’t learn about this until a woman came into the room and talked to her.
Rogers learned her childhood friend had died after she got to the hospital.
"That was one of the worst experiences of my life," Rogers said. "I was left in the city full of pain."
The suit, filed Nov. 3, seeks damages in excess of $15,000.