A Los Angeles woman is suing an area hospital and her anesthesiologist for allegedly putting a mustache and stickers on her face during surgery as part of a prank that she claims violated her dignity and endangered her health.
The unidentified woman, who worked as a surgical supply purchaser at the hospital, said her coworkers affixed a fake mustache above her lip and yellow tear drops below her left eye before a nurse snapped a photo, according to the suit.
"Perhaps the most vulnerable position any human being will ever endure in their life is a time when they are placed under full anesthesia," reads the lawsuit, which claims the woman was fully anesthetized rather than sedated "for the sole purpose of humiliating and embarrassing the patient."
The woman said that she learned of the prank when she returned to work after the October 2011 surgery and was approached by some coworkers who had seen the photos. Other coworkers avoided her, she claims.
She filed suit against Dr. Patrick Yang of Torrance Memorial Medical Center on August 15 in Los Angeles County Superior court.
Torrance Memorial acknowledged the mustache photo incident in a statement to ABC News, saying the prank was "intended to be humorous in nature." And although the anesthesiologist and the nurse "demonstrated poor judgment," the hospital maintains that most of the woman's allegations are "factually inaccurate, grossly exaggerated or fabricated."
"While the breach of professionalism outlined above regrettably did occur, Torrance Memorial is vigorously defending this lawsuit and requesting its dismissal," the statement reads, stressing that anesthesiologist Yang and the patient were "friendly" and "had a good working relationship."
The woman claims in the lawsuit that she was unable to return to work at the hospital because of "mental anguish" and "emotional and physical distress" prompted by the prank.
Beyond the "intentional infliction of emotional distress," she's accusing Yang and the hospital of defamation, invasion of privacy, negligence and civil conspiracy as well as battery and sexual harassment for "placing obscene images on her face" and positioning her neck "so that they could keep her mouth open in order to make a crude sexual joke."