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.”