A Florida civil case between Dr. Leonard Hochstein, a former star of Bravo's Real Housewives of Miami, and two of his patients is raising a number of questions about the use of nondisparagement agreements to manage reputations in the field of plastic surgery.
Though RHOM is no longer on the network, Dr. Hochstein is still prominent with Bravo stars, including his wife, Lisa Hochstein, and other notables, who nicknamed him "Boob God" for his extensive experience in the field of breast augmentations and lifts. Newsweek says that Dr. Hochstein has filed a lawsuit against two of his patients, Nicole George and Kristen LaPointe, saying that their negative Yelp reviews damaged his reputation.
Hochstein has stated that reports of scarring and botched surgeries are untrue, which is why he has filed the lawsuit.
"My reputation is the most important thing to me. My patients come to me strictly through word of mouth. You want to defend yourself against things that you know didn't happen."George, from Fort Myers, Florida, says that the doctor "left her with disfiguring scarring and different sizes breasts" after what is called a "mommy makeover," which included a tummy tuck, liposuction, breast lift, and augmentation in May 2018. George states that she doesn't believe that Hochstein took her concerns seriously post-surgery when she called to speak with him. "He told me, 'Your case is not significant to me,' which devastated me."
The former patient admits that she was required to sign a nondisparagement agreement before surgery (as did the other patient in the lawsuit) which stated that she was not allowed to post a negative review about Dr. Hochstein or any of his employees. The agreeement says that the patient would have to pay $25,000 for each negative statement. George says she signed the form and other forms assuming that it was standard for all plastic surgeons.
LaPointe stated in her review that Hochstein made her breasts too large and she was left with scarring.
"I went in for a breast augmentation. I was very unhappy with the results. The implant put in wasn't even the size I requested, he put in 55cc over what I wanted. I had made this very clear that I didn't want to go over that size. I also have horrible scarring."The former Hochstein patient stated that each revision surgeon that she has seen for her concerns has told her never to go to a surgeon who makes patients sign documents to control complaints.
Hochstein says that he has never sued anyone for an honest review, and calls the things LaPointe wrote "fake."
But the doctor might have an uphill battle if the women are able to back up their complaints, as the Consumer Review Fairness Act, passed in 2016, makes it illegal to "punish or threaten legal action against someone for giving an honest review about their business or service."