Well-known Midland plastic surgeon accused of taking money, not performing surgeries

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MIDLAND (WJRT) (1/23/2018) - A Mid-Michigan plastic surgeon is under scrutiny for taking patients' money and not performing surgeries.

Dr. Steven Morris of Midland had his medical license suspended in September, but he has it back now.

Authorities say patients prepaid for surgeries, but Morris didn't perform them. Now, those families are having trouble getting their money back.

Morris is a well-known plastic surgeon in the Great Lakes Bay region. He's advertised widely on billboards and radio commercials. So when Hayley Pontseele needed some work done, she gave his office a call.

"I work full-time and saved my money up for it," she said.

Her family prepaid $10,000 for the surgery, about $3,900 of which went to Morris. Surgery was scheduled for Aug. 10, but it was postponed.

"Doctor had to go out of town, he had a family emergency," Pontseele's mother Rebecca Harless said.

It was moved to Aug. 31, but right before then -- another delay.

"They told us the hospital had issues," Harless said. "There was scheduling issues with the hospital, so they had to cancel again. This time we are like, 'No, we took time off work again, we we're just not going to go through Dr. Morris.'"

Since then, the family has been asking the doctor's office for their money back. They've made repeated calls and visits to the doctor's office.

"'Hey do you have anything new about my refund, do you know if it's coming,'" Pontseele recalls asking several times. "They are like, 'Yeah, its coming, we just don't know when.'"

In September, they heard that Morris had his medical license suspended because he failed to report to the state's medical licensing agency that he had two drunk driving convictions, one in 2014 and one last year, along with a probation violation.

But in October, an administrative law judge overturned the license suspension. Morris was back in business.

So Pontseele called the doctor's office again, looking for her money.

"'No, not at the moment, but the doctor did get his license back, so if you want to schedule your surgery again you can do that,'" Pontseele said the doctor's staff told her. "I was like, 'No, I don't want the surgery, I just want my money back.'"

She's not the only one looking to get her money back.

Jason Derus' wife scheduled surgery with Morris in November. She prepaid him $2,400 after a consultation.

Just before the surgery, they got a text from someone at Morris' office saying the surgery was canceled because of a scheduling conflict at MidMichigan Medical Center in Midland. Derus' wife called the hospital.

"They told her she wasn't even scheduled for surgery, that he wasn't allowed to practice at the Midland hospital," Derus said.

A spokesman for the hospital confirms that Morris is not currently performing procedures at the hospital. Derus and his wife have called the doctor repeatedly to get their money back.

"He doesn't even have the decency to call you back to let you know if you are going to get your money back," Derus said.

They have contacted the Michigan Attorney General's Office, Midland Police Department and the Midland County Prosecutor's Office for help recovering their money. All of the agencies say these are civil complaints, not criminal.

The Deruses have complained to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, which handles medical licenses for all providers in the state. The agency says Morris has his license back for now, but his case will go before the Michigan Board of Medicine in March.

The Board of Medicine could decide to suspend his license again.

What does Morris or anyone else at this office, which is open, have to say about all this? They hung up every time ABC12 called seeking comment.

"We just want our money back and we don't him to do this to anyone else," Harless said.



 
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