A Gold Coast woman flying to Mexico to seek justice over the death of her sister in a botched cosmetic medical procedure is being cautioned not to expect the legal system there to be anything like Australia.
Gold Coast injury compensation lawyer Bruce Simmonds, who has run actions abroad including Hong Kong and California, said foreign legal procedures could be difficult to navigate and sometimes conducted “under the table”.
Gold Coaster Andrea Sarmonikas has flown to Mexico seeking justice for the death of her sister Evita, who died during buttock implant surgery in Mexico in March.
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Evita reportedly went into cardiac arrest during a so-called “Brazilian butt lift” procedure, performed by Dr Victor Ramirez at the Hospital Quirurgico del Valle in Mexicali. An official autopsy said she died as a result of a pulmonary embolism but media reports say a second autopsy commissioned by Evita’s family found her right lung was punctured several times by “an instrument”.
Mr Simmonds, Litigation Director with Gold Coast law firm Parker Simmonds Solicitors and Lawyers, said pursuing legal actions abroad could be very difficult not just due to a different legal system but also a mindset in how that country’s legal system was run.
“You can’t just fly off and expect that the people you deal with follow the same rules as Australia. We ran a case in Hong Kong using a local law firm as agents there and it’s much better if you can bridge the Australia/ overseas connections by using local firms there as agents.
“We have run motor vehicle injury claims in California and it’s a very different system to ours as so much seems to be done under the table,” he said.
Mr Simmonds said he had experienced Mexico and while locals there were bilingual, Australians pursuing a local claim could encounter ‘roadblocks’, in part caused by legal and cultural differences.
Australians tackling a foreign legal system should arm themselves with the resources of an Australian law firm too.
“If you are pursuing legal action in a foreign country you have to assume the other party will use every trick in the book to avoid you. Running legal actions overseas can be done but it’s important people realise you are coming up against a whole lot of complications with the foreign legal system,” Mr Simmonds said.