Alfie Pettit Files Lawsuit Against Dr. Mark Sonofio

PALM SPRINGS – Alfie Pettit, who gained prominence as Arial Trampway, a drag queen, has filed a lawsuit in Riverside Superior Court against Dr. Mark Vincent Sonofio, a Rancho Mirage-based plastic surgeon, for intentional infliction of emotional distress and discrimination because Pettit is HIV positive.

The lawsuit alleges Sofonio discriminated against Pettit in violation of the Disabled Persons Act. Pettit is demanding a jury trial.

Alfie Pettit Sues Prominent Local Plastic Surgeon

Alfie Pettit

Pettit is being represented by Alan Horowitz of Cathedral City.  Pettit declined to comment for this story.

In a letter to Sofonio, Pettit’s attorney wrote, “Mr. Pettit’s claims are substantial.”

Pettit claims that on or around July 10, 2018, he set up an appointment with Sonofio’s Rancho Mirage office for a radiofrequency (RF) INTRAcel micro-needling treatment.

The INTRAcel RF Micro-Needling device is used for a variety of cosmetic procedures that can improve acne scarring, wrinkles, signs of aging, and can provide a non-surgical face lift.  An array of 49 micro-needles (0.3 mm) in a 1cm area delivers the RF heat energy into the middle layer of the skin, which triggers a repair response from the body. INTRAcel consists of a handheld applicator with a disposable single-use treatment tip that is disposed of after every treatment, according to the lawsuit

Pettit thought Sonofio’s office was “the perfect fit” for what he was looking for because Sonofio had the advanced technology, was close in proximity to Pettit, and Pettit had been a patient for many years,

According to the lawsuit, two hours after Pettit set up the appointment, a nurse called him to cancel it.  The nurse stated that the rejection was strictly because of Pettit’s “positive HIV status,” according to the lawsuit.

The nurse also allegedly stated that the manufacturer of the INTRAcel machine, Jeisys Medical Inc., does not allow the procedure on HIV positive patients.

According to the lawsuit, the nurse has been a regional trainer for Jeisys Medical Inc. Jeisys Medical Inc. does not actually restrict the use of their equipment on HIV positive patients, according to the lawsuit

Then, on or around late August, 2018, Pettit received a letter from Sonofio’s office stating that it would perform the INTRAcel procedure if Pettit agreed to pay for a replacement handpiece.

Pettit was “shocked” by the fact that he was being discriminated against because of his sexual orientation and/or HIV status when other patients don’t have to pay for a replacement handpiece, according to the lawsuit.

As a direct result of Sonofio’s conduct, Pettit has sustained and continues to sustain substantial losses in earnings, employment benefits, employment opportunities and other economic losses, according to the lawsuit.

Alfie Pettit, who ran for the Palm Springs City Council in 2019, is seeking the following relief:

  • For compensatory damages, including loss of promotional opportunities and other opportunities of employment;
  • For special damages, including unpaid wages and unpaid expenses;
  • For injunctive relief;
  • For punitive damages in an amount necessary to make an example of and to punish Sonofio and to deter future similar misconduct;
  • For mental and emotional distress damages;
  • For an award of attorney’s fees;
  • For costs of lawsuit; and
  • For such other and further relief as the Court deems proper and just under all the circumstances.




Image Sources

  • Alfie Pettit: Alfie Pettit
  • Lawsuit: Shutterstock