Last week, a Miami-Dade medical examiner released a scathing report questioning the medical treatment of local Spanish-language radio personality Betty Pino, who died in August at age 65 after wounds from a procedure to remove silicone from her buttocks became infected.
In that report, Pino's family said they were considering whether to sue the suddenly embattled Constantino Mendieta, one of South Florida's most prominent plastic surgeons, who wielded the scalpel.
If that happens, it definitely wouldn't be the first time Mendieta has faced a lawsuit over a botched procedure. In 2004, a woman named Amelia Garibaldi walked into 4Beauty, Mendieta's clinic, where he performed a "tummy tuck" and liposuction on her.
Everything apparently went swell, so Garibaldi returned a year later and received what Mendieta referred to as "facial rejuvenation." Then, Garibaldi later charged in a 2007 lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade court, he inserted something called a "bio-absorbable implant" without her permission.
It got infected. Even after treatment, she "continued to struggle with the infection to the left side of her face," the lawsuit says. Afterward, she claimed she suffered "disfigurement to the face," so she sued Mendieta for malpractice. A Miami court later dismissed the suit.
In June 2012, another woman, Rebecca Pineda, sued Mendieta after he allegedly left inside her left breast the "tip" of a medical instrument colloquially called a "Bovie," which doctors use to make incisions during surgery. That suit was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.
Now, as Mendieta faces the sharpest criticism of his career, he's gone on the offensive, lambasting both the claims in these suits and the Miami-Dade medical examiner's report.
"There were so many errors," he said, referencing how the document's author, Kenneth Hutchins, mistakenly referred to Mendieta as "Dr. Riviera" in the writeup. "I'm about to send him a letter about that."
He continued: "I'm respected and renowned worldwide. I've written a book. I'm known worldwide for my work on the buttocks. And [Pino's procedure] wasn't a cosmetic surgery. It was reconstructive. It's multiple procedures, and it's very difficult." He said what really killed Pino, a plastic surgery enthusiast, wasn't his procedure but one four years ago when she had silicone injected into her buttocks. "The real story isn't the plastic surgery," Mendieta said. "It's these injections."
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Mendieta also batted away concerns over his past lawsuits. "If you haven't been sued, you haven't been practicing long enough. It's a high-risk profession."