Dr. Phil’s TV Company Accused of Breaking Promise to Treat Cancer Patient

A cancer patient who was featured on the daytime show “The Doctors” is accusing the producers of backing out on a promise to help her get a free prosthesis.

Marisha Dotson sent a demand letter on Monday to Dr. Phil McGraw’s TV company, Stage 29 Productions, which produces the show for syndication. The letter alleges that the show exploited Dotson’s case to give free publicity to a cosmetic dentist based in Las Vegas, who then failed to follow through on the promise of treatment. The letter threatens a lawsuit for false advertising and unlawful business practices, among other claims.

Dotson suffers from a rare form of skin cancer, and has undergone more than 50 procedures to remove much of her nose, as well as her upper palate, septum, and teeth. She launched a GoFundMe page to help pay for treatments and insurance deductibles, and also had to borrow and take donations from family and friends.

In the summer of 2017, she was invited to appear on “The Doctors.” She went on the show in September 2017, and was promised she would receive a new prosthesis and plastic surgery. But according to her attorney, Tre Lovell, she was given the runaround for more than a year and the doctor never provided the promised course of treatment.

“She was being used as a prop to garner ratings and support for the show, a source of free advertising and marketing for the doctors, all of whom had no intention to actually help her or provide her the promised medical services,” Lovell wrote.

The attorney alleges that Dotson held off on her regular course of treatment at her home in Tennessee while waiting for the show to live up to its promises. The delay caused additional medical complications, he alleges. Had she known what would happen, Lovell said, “She never would have gone on the show.”

A spokesperson for the show said that she could not comment because Dotson has hired a lawyer. The show is distributed by CBS Television Distribution, which also distributes “Dr. Phil” and “Judge Judy.”

Dotson signed a release before going on the show, but was not given a copy of it, her attorney said.

Lovell said the show’s behavior amounts to fraud, and that the release will not prevent him from suing.

“They’re representing to the public that they’re doing these things in order to promote the show,” he said. “Once the segment is over, she’s more or less forgotten.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Sean Spicer Emmys

    Sean Spicer's Casting Explained? Red States Love 'Dancing With the Stars'

    ABC faced backlash this week after casting former White House press secretary Sean Spicer on “Dancing with the Stars.” But that outrage might actually spice up the dancing competition’s dwindling ratings — particularly in Trump Country. “Dancing with the Stars” has faced a relatively alarming decline in ratings over the past two cycles, falling 32% [...]

  • Peppa Pig

    Hasbro Acquires Entertainment One in $4 Billion All-Cash Deal

    Toymaker Hasbro is acquiring studio Entertainment One in an all-cash transaction valued at $4 billion, bringing My Little Pony and Nerf under the same umbrella as “Peppa Pig” and “PJ Masks” and furthering Hasbro’s growth goals in the infant and preschool categories. Hasbro aims to expand its operations in film and TV. Entertainment One’s production [...]

  • Sarah Michelle Gellar

    'Other People's Houses' Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar in the Works at Fox

    Sarah Michelle Gellar is looking to reunite with “Ringer” creators Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder on a dramedy co-produced by Fox Entertainment and UTV. Fox is developing “Other People’s Houses,” Variety has learned, and has given the project a script commitment. Charmelo and Snyder will write and executive produce, while Neil Meron, Sarah Michelle Gellar [...]

  • Ann Sarnoff Warner Bros

    Ann Sarnoff Formally Takes Reins of Warner Bros. as CEO

    The Ann Sarnoff era at Warner Bros. has begun. Sarnoff formally took the reins as Warner Bros. chair-CEO on Thursday, two months after she was appointed to the post. Sarnoff told employees in a memo that she has been impressed by the company’s track record during the past year amid a period of upheaval for [...]

  • Jamie-Lynn Sigler'Woke Up This Morning: The

    ‘Sopranos’ Cast Members to Present at VMAs in New Jersey

    The VMAs will reunite “Sopranos” castmates for the big awards show happening Monday night in Newark, New Jersey — right next door to America’s favorite crime family.  Drea De Matteo (who played the mobster girlfriend-turned F.B.I. informant Adriana La Cerva), Jamie-Lynn Sigler (who played Tony Soprano’s precocious daughter Meadow Soprano) and Vincent Pastore (who played [...]

  • The L Word

    'The L Word: Generation Q' Teaser Unites Original Cast, New Characters

    Showtime has released the first look at the next generation of “The L Word” and its new cast including Rosanny Zayas, Jacqueline Toboni, Sepideh Moafi, Arienne Mandi, and Micah Lee. Along with some of the original cast, including Jennifer Beals, Leisha Hailey, and Katherine Moennig, the series sequel picks up where its creator Ilene Chaiken [...]

  • ACCESS HOLLYWOOD -- Season: 24 --

    'Access Hollywood' Franchise Adds New Half-Hour Show

    After a spate of recent layoffs and the departure of host Natalie Morales, “Access Hollywood” is extending its brand with a new half-hour series. “All Access,” premiering Sept. 9, will take an in-depth look into the national headlines and look to uncover the real-life drama occurring in everyday places, exploring a blend of true crime [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content