Right Between the Eyes. Make That the Toes in Bizarre Personal Injury Lawsuit!

By: Gerri L. Elder

During an eye exam, generally you don't expect your feet to be looked at or touched at all or to end up in court afterwards. Granted, Roman Tesfaye had never had an eye exam before in her life, so she might not have known what to expect, but she was a bit alarmed when her toes were allegedly touched and licked. When the Chicago-area woman felt her optometrist's assistant touching her toes after he had covered her eyes, she immediately realized that she was receiving a bit more than a routine eye exam.

Tesfaye has filed a personal injury lawsuit, alleging that when she went to the eye doctor last year, the doctor's assistant touched and licked her toes. Tesfaye's personal injury lawsuit against Myers-Wyse Center for the Eye names the eye doctor, Tamara Wyse, and her assistant, Joseph Vernell Jr., and seeks more than $50,000 in damages for emotional distress and battery.

Tesfaye says that she had an appointment on July 13th of last year with the eye doctor at Myers-Wyse Center for the Eye for an exam - of her eyes. Tesfaye says that she was escorted into an examination room where she waited. Soon enough, Vernell came into the room, dressed in surgical scrubs. Tesfaye says that he dimmed the lights in the room and explained that he would be doing some testing.

Vernell allegedly told Tesfaye that he would perform a "strip test." He then covered her eyes and told her that her eyes would need to remain closed for 5-7 minutes. After her eyes were covered with a strip, Tesfaye says that the chair she was seated in was reclined, and Vernell raised her legs onto another chair. She says that she felt one of her shoes fall off, and then realized that something, or someone, was touching her toes.

Tesfaye says that the toe touching went on until she opened her eyes. She says that when she removed the strip from her eyes, she saw Vernell stand up and pull his shirt down. When she accused him of licking her toes, he reportedly apologized and told her that he was just checking her blood sugar. Of course, Tesfaye, 36, wasn't born yesterday, and didn't buy his story.

Vernell was fired from the doctor's office, but Tesfaye says that when she reported the incident, Dr. Wyse refused to speak with her about what had happened. The Myers-Wyse Center for the Eye has since issued a public apology to Tesfaye for the incident, coincidentally, after she filed a personal injury lawsuit against them.

Tesfaye also reported the incident to police, and Vernell was arrested. In August, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery in connection with the toe-licking incident and was sentenced to one-year probation.

With Vernell out of the office, no other toe licking incidents have been reported.

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