In the world of the upper East Side where apartments run $4 million and lunch consists of an ounce of arugula, you can, as they say, never be too thin or too rich. Still, at 105·pounds, I’d think it would be hard for Mrs. G. (whose name has been sealed by the court) to find any fat to tuck. Even so, she managed to rack up three liposuctions to the chin, a tummy tuck, a nose job, several eyelid operations, multiple injections of fat to do away with wrinkles, removal of skin growths, eyebrow tattoos, a breast boost, .and liposuctions of the abdomen, knees, inner thighs, and flanks.
In any case, after 29 years of selective surgery remakes, Mrs. G. is now suing her doctor for malpractice, saying the real problem all along was in her head, not with her chin and thighs. She’s self-admittedly nuts, in other words, so wacky about body image that she’s incompetent to give real consent to surgery and no good doctor should have tucked her tummy or tapered her flanks.
Seeing good merit in Mrs. G.’s case, a New York State Appellate Division court flashed a green light, pointing to something called BDD, body dysmorphic disorder – an obsession with minor or imaginary physical flaws.
Asked New York Observer columnist Renee Kaplan, “What should plastic surgeons do when crazy patients demand work?” If Mrs. G. ultimately wins, says Kaplan, “Park Avenue’s notoriously body-obsessed plastic surgery aficionados may soon be obliged to get their heads shrunk before they can get their faces lifted.”
Also in New York, red-blooded American male William Stowell is suing the hospital where he was born for malpractice – Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip. “Wrongful circumcision,” says Stowell, is keeping him from enjoying things as much as he thinks he should.
Overall, a new lawsuit is now filed every two seconds. Some have merit, some are from nuts, too many are nothing more than legal shakedowns. “We in the United States,” concludes a Wall Street Journal editorial, “seem to have arrived at the point in our social relations where many people, and certainly the entire Democratic Party, believe that no private institution will act in good faith absent the possibility. of being torn to pieces by a lawsuit.”
Measured in lost jobs and higher prices, we’re each being hit, on average, with a hidden· tax of $616 annually to support the cost of litigation, $2,464 for a family of four, according to a recent study by the Public Policy Institute.
“Litigation has become the nation’s top growth industry, growing four times faster than the economy,” writes Jack Faris, president of the National Federation of Independent Business. “Everyone who wears a pacemaker pays thousands of dollars more than the device actually costs to support liability fees. And the new car you bought? You won’t see it on the invoice, but hidden in the final tally are costs that allow trial lawyers to dip into your wallet for an average of $500 per car.”