Playboy model Katie May died last year at age 34 as the result of her chiropractor’s actions, according to a lawsuit filed by the model’s estate.
The suit, filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, names Dr. Eric Swartz and his practice, Back to Total Health, alleges wrongful death, medical malpractice and negligence, among other counts.
According to the lawsuit, May visited the chiropractor for a neck adjustment in late January and early February, after experiencing neck pain from holding an “awkward pose” during a photo-shoot. Shortly thereafter, the suit says, May was hospitalized and suffered a stroke, leading to her February 4, 2016 death.
“Her death resulted from an injury sustained during a neck manipulation by chiropractor Defendant,” the lawsuit reads. “The coroner’s report confirms that the cause of death is due to infarction of the brain due to vertebral artery dissection due to blunt force injury of neck,” the suit reads.
According to the suit, Swartz was “negligent in the diagnosis, care and treatment of May.”
The suit seeks unspecified damages, noting that May’s eight-year old daughter Mia Eden May-Maimon has been “traumatized” by the loss of her mother.
The estate had previously sought a settlement from the chiropractor.
In October, the estate’s lawyer, Ronald Richards, told TheWrap that he had contacted a legal representative for the chiropractor and planned to submit a demand to the chiropractor’s insurer.
“The coroner’s report takes the unusual but definitive step of concluding the chiropractor’s treatment was the cause and fact of Katie May’s death,” Richards told TheWrap. “We have been in contact with a legal representative for the chiropractor and expect to submit a demand shortly with the chiropractor’s insurance carrier. We are hopeful that the chiropractor will want to resolve the matter to avoid further injury to all parties to this unfortunate tragedy.”
However, Richards told TheWrap on Wednesday that the estate was forced to file the complaint because the insurance company refused to attend a mediation that it had agreed to.
“We have always tried to settle this case within policy limits. The carrier is trying to force a young girl to re live the loss of her mother so they can procure a lower settlement. We have simply tried to secure for Mia a college fund and move on,” Richards said. “Instead of saving their insured and our client and her mother’s estate the pain of this litigation, they choose to force the issue. The result is the suit is now public and the chiropractor is exposed to a lot more damages then the policy.”
The Los Angeles County coroner determined that May’s death in February 2016 was caused by “infarction of the brain due to vertebral artery dissection due to blunt force injury of of [her] neck. Initial reports are of an injury of the neck resulting in neck pain for which she sought treatment at Back to Health Wellness Center.”
An autopsy report opinion dated Oct.21 noted that, after receiving treatment on Feb. 1, May complained of “dizziness, headache and weakness.” May was admitted to Cedars Sinai Hospital and subsequently suffered a stroke despite treatment.
May tweeted on Jan. 29 that she had pinched “a nerve in my neck on a photoshoot [sic] and got adjusted this morning,” adding that she was returning to the chiropractor.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.