“Real Housewives of Orange County” star Heather Dubrow‘s husband, Dr. Terry Dubrow, is suing the lawyer for a butt-lift patient who previously sued him, court documents show. A California appeals court ruled earlier this year that the defamation lawsuit by Dubrow against Texas attorney Stephen Le Brocq can go forward.
The ordeal began in 2020 when Dubrow’s former patient, Sandy Scroggins, sued him in federal court, accusing the Newport Beach surgeon and “Botched” star of malpractice. Scroggins accused Dubrow of rushing her procedure to return to filming his E! reality show, according to court documents obtained by Heavy. She said he left medical instruments in her body, according to the lawsuit. The case was dismissed in December 2021. Dubrow denied any wrongdoing and said in court documents that Scroggins was attempting to extort him for $5 million.
Meanwhile, Dubrow sued Scroggins’ lawyer, Le Brocq, in Orange County court in October 2020, accusing him of libel and false light invasion of privacy, according to court filings obtained by Heavy. The lawsuit centers around comments Le Brocq made to Page Six in response about his case against Dubrow. Le Brocq sought to have Dubrow’s lawsuit thrown out using California’s anti-SLAPP statute, which is designed to prevent frivolous lawsuits. The case is slated to go on trial in 2023 if a settlement isn’t reached before then.
Le Brocq Told Page Six That the ‘Botched’ Star ‘Botched’ His Client’s Surgery, but Dubrow’s Attorney Says He Doesn’t Even Use the Medical Device His Former Patient Says He Left Inside Her
According to court documents, Scroggins, a Texas resident, went to Dubrow’s California office in June 2019 for a surgical consultation with the plastic surgeon and signed an arbitration agreement that stated “any claim arising out of or related to the medical treatment or service she received by Dr. Dubrow would be resolved exclusively by confidential binding arbitration,” and also agreed the surgery she would be receiving was high risk and the chances of complications were 35 to 40%.
The surgery was performed by Dubrow in July 2019, according to court documents. Scroggins claimed Dubrow performed the surgery negligently and caused her injuries and hired an attorney to threaten to sue the reality star doctor. She then filed a $10 million lawsuit in federal court in Texas, which was later moved to California federal court. But Dubrow’s attorneys went to court in Orange County and argued, successfully, that the case had to be heard privately through arbitration because of the contract Scroggins signed. After Scroggins’ lawsuit was filed, Le Brocq gave a quote to Page Six, saying:
Ms. Scoggins went to Dubrow to receive a surgery that was supposed to change her life, and it did, but in the worst way imaginable. Scoggins was ‘Botched by Botched.’
Dubrow’s operation was so incredibly incompetent that not only did our client’s wounds tear open immediately after her six-figure surgery, but she also developed sepsis and nearly died from Dubrow’s negligence on multiple occasions. On top of that, Dubrow left medical equipment used during the surgery in our client’s body, presumably because he was rushing to complete the procedure to get to filming his TV show. A camera crew for ‘Botched’ was rushing Dubrow to finish with our client’s surgery since his show was about to start filming a new patient.
It has taken more than a year’s time and multiple surgeries before our client no longer had large, open wounds on her body left by Dubrow. Instead of doing the right thing and accepting responsibility for his gross incompetence, he makes claims of extortion. Our client’s life was turned upside down and nearly taken by Dubrow, and he is attempting to suppress the truth of his incompetence with a confidential arbitration clause.
He also accused Dubrow of releasing private medical information to the media and making false claims of extortion, according to the Page Six article. Le Brocq told Page Six, “The truth is Dubrow rushed a surgery, nearly killed an innocent woman, and guaranteed this woman’s life will never be the same again. The world deserves to know he is not the renowned plastic surgeon he purports to be in Hollywood.” Dubrow also accused Le Brocq of making defamatory comments to TMZ.
Court documents show that Dubrow’s attorneys denied her accusations. His lawyers wrote in a court filing that the claim that surgical mesh was left inside Scroggins was false because Dubrow does not use that medical device. His attorney wrote, “Scoggins’ alleged medical injuries were not negligently caused by Dr. Dubrow; she did not ‘nearly die’ but instead faced complications that were commonly known risks of her surgery. Dr. Dubrow did not leave ‘tools’ or ‘equipment’ inside Ms. Scoggins’ body; nor did he ‘rush’ to finish her procedure.”
Le Brocq Argued His Statements Were Made as Part of His Client’s Case Against Dubrow, but the California Appellate Judges Ruled Against Him in May 2022
According to the appellate court ruling, “Dubrow immediately filed the present action alleging defamation and false light invasion of privacy due to Le Brocq’s statements to Page Six and TMZ. Le Brocq filed a special motion to strike pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16 as an anti-SLAPP lawsuit. Following briefing and a hearing, the trial court denied the motion based on the following findings: (1) Le Brocq met its initial burden of showing that Dubrow’s claims arose from protected conduct, and (2) Dubrow met his burden of showing a probability of prevailing on the merits of his claim. Le Brocq filed a timely notice of appeal.”
The court wrote, “Le Brocq contends that Dubrow’s claims lack any merit because Le Brocq’s statements are fully protected by the fair report privilege.” According to California law, the fair report privilege, “‘confers an absolute privilege on any fair and true report in, or a communication to, a public journal of a judicial proceeding, or anything said in the course thereof.” The court wrote in its ruling:
When Le Brocq made the statements to Page Six and TMZ, only one judicial proceeding was underway-Dubrow’s petition to compel arbitration. That petition was very limited in scope. In it, Dubrow alleged that Scoggins had claimed Dubrow committed medical malpractice and was threatening to sue Dubrow in federal court unless Dubrow paid her $5,000,000. Dubrow also alleged that Scoggins had signed a contractual arbitration provision before her surgery, and that the malpractice contentions must therefore be decided by an arbitrator. The statements by Le Brocq to Page Six and TMZ, in contrast, pertain to a proceeding that had not yet been commenced. Moreover, the statements contained information well outside the scope of the arbitration petition, which Le Brocq had not even reviewed at that time. Therefore, Le Brocq’s statements were not a fair report on a judicial proceeding.
The court wrote, “The key to our analysis is that Le Brocq’s statements to Page Six were not connected in any way to any judicial proceeding. An average reader would understand Le Brocq’s statements as facts, and therefore the statements are not privileged. … Le Brocq’s statements to Page Six do not quote, reference, or rely on any judicial proceedings, and are expressed in terms of facts, not allegations. The only existing judicial proceeding was a dispute over arbitrability which did not allege the facts of the medical negligence action. His statements thus fail as fair comment not because he neither referred to a complaint nor prefaced his comments as allegations in an existing proceeding, but because he had not made the allegations in an existing proceeding on which he could report.”