Allure Esthetic to Pay $5 Million to Settle HIPAA Violations and Illegal NDA Lawsuit

Allure Esthetic, a plastic surgery practice in Seattle, WA was directed to pay a $5 million financial penalty to the Office of the Washington Attorney General to settle alleged violations of the Washington Consumer Protection Act (CPA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the federal Consumer Review Fairness Act (CRFA).

Owner Dr. Javad Sajan of Allure Esthetic offers surgical and non-surgical plastic and cosmetic surgery procedures in its established clinics in Washington and other states. The company operates the following practices:  Allure Esthetic, Seattle Plastic Surgery, Gallery of Cosmetic Surgery, Alderwood Surgical Center, Northwest Face and Body, and Northwest Nasal Sinus Center.

Allure Esthetic and Dr. Sajan are facing a lawsuit filed by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson for allegedly using the practice to make fake online reviews to boost the reputation of the plastic surgeon. Based on the lawsuit, from 2017 to 2019, Dr. Sajan required patients to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDA) that restricted them from publishing any bad reviews about Allure Esthetic on the web. The non-disclosure agreements were required after the patients had already paid a $100 non-refundable consultation fee. The NDAs also mentioned that some patients need to waive their HIPAA rights to make it possible for the practice to react to negative comments using their personal health data.

Patients who were unsatisfied with Allure Esthetic’s service and published bad reviews were given money and free services in exchange for the removal of their reviews. Some patients were also threatened that they would be fined should they post bad reviews later on. Others faced lawsuits when they declined to remove their honest comments. Dr. Sajan was likewise alleged to have instructed employees to create bogus email accounts to post fake, positive reviews as patients on websites like Google and Yelp. Employees were also instructed to edit before and after pictures before posting them on the company’s social media profiles. Dr. Sajan was also charged with manipulating “best doctor” contests organized by local media groups, and applying for and keeping thousands of dollars in discounts that ought to have been given to patients.

In April 2024, a federal judge decided that Allure’s NDAs violated the Consumer Review Fairness Act (CRFA), which safeguards consumers’ rights to publish honest reviews regarding a business. The practices of Allure Esthetic failed to comply with the HIPAA and the CPA. The consent decree released by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington demands that Allure should pay $1.5 million in indemnification to about 21,000 Washington locals. Every one of those people will get a check for $50 or $120, depending on their instances. In case they were compelled to sign an NDA, they will get $50. In case they paid the non-refundable fee, they will get $120 as a reimbursement of the fee including interest.

Allure needs to inform all people by mail that they are going to receive a check because of the Attorney General’s legal action. They will also be free from the conditions of their illegal NDAs. Allure should also give them their checks together with the letter from the Attorney General’s Office. The outstanding $3.5 million of the settlement fund will be paid to the Attorney General’s Office for attorneys’ costs, investigation and prosecution expenses, future monitoring, and implementation of the ruling and Washington’s consumer protection regulations.

Allure also needs to perform a review of all review websites and request the deletion of any feedback that Allure falsified from creation to posting, or shaping. Any deceptive photos must also be removed from its social media accounts. Allure is not allowed to alter future before and after photos and use and attempt to implement unlawful non-disclosure agreements. Allure should also pay a third-party forensic accounting organization to do a complete review of its consumer rebate plan to determine all patients to whom Allure owed rebates that were unlawfully claimed.

Posting a review about a business must not be done because of threats or intimidation. Consumers depend on reviews to determine who to believe in, particularly services that impact their health and wellness. This federal judge decision holds Allure responsible for brazenly breaking the law and the trust of consumers. The Attorney General’s Office will take action against any company that attempts to quiet and bully honest Washingtonians.