Class Action Launched Against Toronto Plastic Surgeon “Dr. 6ix”

Howie, Sacks & Henry, Waddell Phillips and Beyond Law have joined forces to launch a class action against Dr. Martin Jugenburg (the self-styled “Dr.6ix”). Led by an all-female legal team, the action seeks compensation for past patients of Dr. Jugenburg and alleges that Dr. Jugenburg took photographs and videos of his patients at the Toronto Cosmetic Surgery Institute (“the Clinic”) without their knowledge or consent, including during their private consultations while nude and semi-nude, and during surgeries. The claim alleges that many of these photos and videos, which were taken for medical purposes were posted on an array of social media channels without patient consent.

The lawsuit alleges that Dr. Jugenburg breached his patients’ reasonable expectations of privacy, both by covertly recording patients, and by using those photographs for advertising purposes rather than the medical purposes for which they were obtained.

Click here to view the amended statement of claim, dated February 21, 2020.

Updates

CPSO disciplinary proceedings:

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) has now held two disciplinary proceedings against Dr. Jugenburg for professional misconduct.

In its September 24, 2020 decision the CPSO found that Dr. Jugenburg’s invitation to have a television crew film a patient’s surgical procedure without her informed consent constituted a major breach of her privacy, and that he failed to ensure another patient’s privacy when he posted her images to social media without her consent. The CPSO also found that the Clinic’s video surveillance system “clearly operated in violation of the privacy interests of the clinic patients.” As a result of these findings, the CPSO ruled that Dr. Jugenburg committed acts of professional misconduct. Read the full decision here.

On February 1, 2021, the CPSO held a penalty hearing in relation to Dr. Jugenburg’s professional misconduct and the results of that hearing are pending.

Proposed class action:

The Plaintiffs have delivered their materials in support of the motion for certification, and that motion has been scheduled to be argued on April 12 – 14, 2021. At that time the court will decide if the action can proceed as a class action.

The Statement of Claim was issued on November 28, 2019, and amended on February 21, 2020.

Please view Class Counsel’s webinar about this proposed class action: https://vimeo.com/383307868

Additional updates will be posted as the action progresses.

The Facts

Dr. Jugenburg is a plastic surgeon practising primarily in his Toronto-based clinic, the Toronto Cosmetic Surgery Institute. His practice is focused on cosmetic surgical procedures for women, including breast augmentations, tummy tucks and liposuction.

Posting under the name Dr. 6ix, or “realdrsix” Dr. Jugenburg often shares photos and videos of his patients (including videos of their procedures) to his followers on social media (including over 100,000 followers on Instagram alone).

Several Clinic patients have come forward to allege that they had only given consent to be photographed for medical purposes and that Dr. Jugenburg misused their images for his personal promotion and business advertising purposes.

A December 2018 episode of the consumer watchdog program CBC Marketplace revealed that Dr. Jugenburg had installed cameras throughout his clinic that recorded patients in waiting, consultation, examination and operating rooms without their knowledge or consent. The few notices posted on the Clinic premises indicating that cameras were in use were not generally visible.

CBC’s reporting subsequently triggered investigations by the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO).

The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario found that Dr. Jugenburg’s widespread use of surveillance cameras for non-health care purposes, especially in areas where patients might be undressed and therefore at their most vulnerable, was unacceptable and in contravention of the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2014. Read the Commissioner’s decision here.

The CPSO discipline proceeding against Dr. Jugenburg has resulted in a finding of professional misconduct. As of February 28, 2019, Dr. Jugenburg has entered into an undertaking with the CPSO confirming that no security cameras or other video devices will be used in any areas of the Clinic where patient encounters may occur. He is also required to post clearly-visible notices in entranceways and waiting rooms indicating the presence of cameras or other recording devices.

The Law

According to the law, every medical practitioner owes a duty of care to their patients and is obliged to maintain patient-doctor confidentiality and to protect the privacy of the patient’s personal health information. This includes the responsibility to protect private images from being disseminated to the public absent express and informed consent from the patient.

Every patient of Dr. Jugenburg has the reasonable expectation that their right to privacy and confidentiality will be respected. That means not having their appointments or procedures videotaped without their consent or knowledge. It also means that, unless a patient gave informed consent, images from those visits should be recorded for medical purposes only and must be kept private and confidential, and protected from the potential for public disclosure.

The lawsuit alleges that by taking photos and videos without patients’ consent and by using them for personal and business advertising purposes (displayed on social media), those expectations were not met, and that Dr. Jugenburg breached the privacy rights of his patients.

The Proposed Class Proceeding

Howie, Sacks & Henry, Waddell Phillips and Beyond Law have been retained by three of Dr. Jugenburg’s patients, after they learned about the non-consensual videos taken of their visits.

The class action lawsuit claims Dr. Jugenburg is liable for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of confidence, breach of trust, intrusion upon seclusion and invasion of privacy, among other liabilities.

Contact Us

If you were a patient of Dr. Jugenburg between January 1, 2017, and December 23, 2018, you may be eligible for compensation for the damages you suffered due to the invasion of your privacy and breach of your doctor-patient confidence. To identify yourself as a potential member of this class action and for more information, please contact our team at 1-877-771-7006 or reception@waddellphillips.ca.

There is no cost to you to participate as a class member in this proposed class action. The lawyers are working on a contingency fee arrangement, and will only be paid from the proceeds of the litigation, if it is successful.

News Coverage

Howie, Sacks & Henry LLP – Personal Injury Law – Valerie Lord

Valérie Lord, Associate

A bilingual (English and French) graduate of the University of Ottawa’s Law School, Valérie built a career in personal injury law after her own traumatic experience and legal battle (From Air France Flight 358 Crash Victim to Personal Injury Advocate: An Interview With HSH Lawyer Valerie Lord). Valérie provides clients with legal advocacy for tort claims, conducts hearings of personal injury cases, and represents clients involved in mass tort litigation, including Hernia Mesh and Essure. VLord@hshlawyers.com | 416-644-5849

Kate Mazzucco - Beyond Law - Partner

Before becoming a lawyer, Kate witnessed first-hand the devastating effects of a personal injury incident when someone very close to her was seriously injured in a car accident. The toll it took on Kate and her family was enormous, but it also provided Kate with insight into the importance of having skilled, knowledgeable, caring, and compassionate legal counsel. She gained an appreciation for the significant role a lawyer can play, not only in obtaining fair compensation for their clients, but in assisting their clients in their recovery. kate@beyond.law | Direct: 416-287-0199 | Mobile: 416-892-4485

Josh Nisker - Beyond Law - Partner

Josh completed his law degree at the University of Western Ontario, where he graduated with distinction and placed in the top 5% of his graduating class. After being called to the Bar in 2007, Josh pursued graduate legal studies at the University of Cambridge, England, where he obtained his Master of Law (LL.M.). Upon returning home Josh worked in the commercial real estate group of one of Canada’s leading corporate-commercial law firms. Before founding Beyond Law Josh was a partner at one of Canada’s top-ranked personal injury law firms. josh@beyond.law | Direct: 416-284-9963 | Mobile: 416-616-7170

Margaret Waddell - Waddell Phillips - Partner

Margaret L. Waddell brings to her clients three decades of experience in successfully prosecuting and resolving Class Actions and Complex Civil Disputes. She is called to the Bar in both Ontario and Alberta. Margaret is recognized as a leading lawyer in the field of class actions, and has acted as class counsel on a number of prominent cases in this field. She is regularly sought out to lead on class actions, or to partner with other firms. She has broad experience in solving all manner of commercial conflicts. Margaret is also recognized for her particularly strong advocacy before the Court of Appeal. In addition, Margaret is a skilled mediator, who can help litigants reach sensible solutions to their disputes. marg@waddellphillips.ca | 416-477-6979

Tina Yang - Waddell Phillips - Associate

Tina Yang is an associate lawyer at Waddell Phillips, practicing in class actions and civil litigation. She has litigated diverse, ground-breaking class actions – from mass terminations to institutional negligence and beyond – for almost a decade. Tina brings her sharp strategic instincts, tenacious advocacy, and passion for social justice to every case. She has represented clients before all levels of court in Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia, as well as the Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal. Some of her notable cases include the RCMP gender discrimination and harassment class action (2017) and the Canada student loans privacy breach class action (2018), both of which resulted in landmark settlements for thousands of class members. Prior to joining Waddell Phillips, Tina trained at other top class action boutiques in Toronto, after articling at a full-service Bay Street firm. She currently serves as Vice Chair of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (Toronto chapter) and sits on the executive of the Ontario Bar Association Class Actions Section. tina@waddellphillips.ca | 647-847-2294

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Among the best in Canada

Since 2011 Canadian Lawyer Magazine rated us one of the top personal injury law firms in Canada. Why? With close to 20 years helping accident victims and their families, our firm understands the laws that affect your rights to compensation because we’ve helped shape those laws in favour of accident victims.