"It hurts, it hurts,” Michael Marion said. “Sometimes I just want to close my eyes when I go by. That way maybe it's not there, but it's there and every day we go by it, my boys see it every day, their bus goes by it every day."
Timonium, Md. - The clinic closed more than four months ago. But customers of Timonium's Monarch MedSpa are still fighting for refunds for treatments they paid for but never received. Some of them have upsetting stories.
There's no sign out front and the shiny blue awning that hangs over the former office of Monarch MedSpa now bears another company's name. The Timonium clinic has been wiped off the parent company's website. It is gone, but for former clients, certainly not forgotten.
ABC2 News Investigators spoke with one former client whose story is shocking. She asked us not to identify her, but says she learned about the closure of Monarch from the news. The clinic was shut down by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in September after investigators found "conditions that endanger the public health".
The investigation then went multi-state, including Monarch's four other locations in Pennsylvania and Delaware after three Maryland patients got severe infections and one died. It's a horror story this patient says she can relate to, telling us she had severe complications after having butt implants put in over the summer. She says, "I woke up and the whole bed was just covered with blood."
Our patient says she went through hell for months, coming down with a massive infection. She says she was eventually hospitalized and placed on antibiotics for weeks but eventually had to have the implants removed when the wound wouldn't heal. Photos of her incision and scar are so graphic we can't even show them on TV.
Although this patient says she had other procedures at Monarch before with no complications, this one, she says was traumatic, "They have not communicated anything that indicates they're willing to work with me or even feel sorry for the things I've been through."
Silence is what this woman says she's heard from Monarch as she tries to get a refund for the $10,000. And she's not the only one feeling frustrated. ABC2 Investigators have spoken with 10 former customers, who say they paid hundreds upfront for treatments or procedures they never got because the clinic closed its doors unexpectedly.
Some say they were never told the facility closed or why. Other clients got emails or phone calls saying they couldn't have refunds, but were given the option to travel to other Monarch locations more than 100 miles away.
We repeatedly contacted Monarch's owners for comment about the refund issue. After getting no response, we decided to make a trip to Philadelphia, where Monarch's main office is based. At an area hotel where staffers were being trained, we attempted to speak with Monarch's owner Tashya Campbell, asking specifically if the company planned to offer refunds to its customers and if they were ignoring phone calls from clients from the Maryland office.
We were greeted with silence, just like our unidentified patient, who says she contacted the Maryland Attorney General's Office after hearing nothing back. In recent months, eight people have filed complaints. The agency does not comment on active complaints, but consumers tell us they are seeking refunds because they didn't receive treatments they paid for and don't want to drive to another state.
None of those patients have a story like the woman at the center of our story. She says she has no plans at the moment to file a lawsuit against Monarch. But she's sure of one thing: she will never go under the knife for a cosmetic procedure, ever again, saying, "Thinking about it, maybe it's just God's way of telling me leave well enough alone. But that was a hard lesson to learn, definitely a hard lesson to learn."
ABC2 received a statement from Monarch's attorney Ely Goldin earlier this week. He says, "Your request for a comment regarding the story that you intend to air has been forwarded to us. As you know, back in September of 2012, Baltimore Laser Solutions, Inc. D/b/a Monarch Med Spa ("Monarch") voluntarily agreed to suspend all procedures at its Timonium, Maryland facility pending an epidemiological investigation by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (the "department"). Monarch has and continues to cooperate with the department in every possible way. All monarch employees who had any contact with patients in Maryland were tested at state-designated laboratories and cleared. Pending the completion of the department's investigation, the Timonium facility remains closed. Monarch has been in business for eight years and has successfully performed thousands of complication-free procedures. Given the ongoing investigation, the company is unable to offer interviews or comment on your story beyond the information set forth in this statement, which is already in the public domain."
THURSDAY AT 11: ABC2 looks into the medical loophole that allows medspas and some cosmetic surgery centers in Maryland to do cosmetic surgery with no state oversight. Our investigation features an exclusive
interview with the family of the woman whose death prompted the Monarch Med spa investigation and shut down the clinic.
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