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Media & Communications Law

Anna Nicole Breast Surgery Video Banned

Posted Aug 9, 2007 11:24 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A Southern California judge has issued a temporary restraining order preventing a Texas plastic surgeon from selling, distributing or disseminating a 1994 videotape of breast augmentation surgery he performed on Anna Nicole Smith.

The former stripper and Playboy playmate of the Year, perhaps best-known for her marriage to a Houston oil tycoon many decades her senior, doesn't have the same expectation of privacy, following her death of an accidental drug overdose at age 39 earlier this year, according to Dr. Gerald Wayne Johnson. But Howard K. Stern, Smith's attorney and the executor of Smith's estate, said the surgeon taped the surgery without her permission, and Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff agreed, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

A June 2007 letter that is an exhibit in the case says Johnson's office "routinely records all such procedures with the knowledge of the patient" and that he retains "all rights to this video, which is our policy to keep confidential during the patient's lifetime," reports Reuters. But, once a patient dies, "it is then up to my sole discretion as to how and when I will disseminate or make public any or all of the images within the video we have produced," the doctor wrote in the letter.

"So, we're safe for now," writes the San Jose Mercury News (reg. req.). "What's the appeal of seeing a breast surgery, anyway? Can't people just tune into Dr. 90210 and see the same thing every week?"

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