Lawsuit filed against business of Naples physician accused of sexual assault later found dead

A lawsuit has been filed against the medical practice of a Naples physician accused in a sexual assault case who was later found dead.

Eric Salata, 54, had been arrested Nov. 21 and accused of sexually assaulting at least two women during medical procedures at his Pura Vida Medical Spa on Fifth Avenue South.

Collier Circuit Judge Michael Provost had set a $100,000 bond and records indicate he paid cash and was released from the Collier County Jail.

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He was found dead a week later at his Naples home. The medical examiner ruled he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in Collier circuit court on behalf of one of the victims, claims negligent supervision and negligent protocols or policies by the practice.

The plaintiff is seeking a jury trial and more than $100,000 in damages, according to the complaint filed by Adam Horowitz, of Fort Lauderdale-based Horowitz Law.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff had been a patient receiving cosmetic medical treatments at Pura Vida for several years and was treated by Salata and Jill Salata, registered nurse, multiple times. It was not known the relationship between the Salatas.

The lawsuit states that the spa did not have reasonable policies and procedures in place to protect its female patients from sexual misconduct by its medical doctor.

Patient accusations against Salata

According to the initial arrest report, officers were called on Oct. 24 to Project Help Crisis, 3050 Horseshoe Drive North, to meet with a 51-year-old woman.

The victim told officers that Salata instructed her to take prescription Alprazolam when she arrived for her appointment, because the procedure was "excruciatingly painful," and it would take between three and four hours, according to the police report.

She said she took the first controlled substance as instructed. She told authorities that Salata, who was the only person present during the procedure, administered laughing gas to help with the pain, court documents show.

She added she felt Salata touch her private parts and shake her violently. Then, he used more laughing gas because "she was in so much pain."

She became unconscious and awoke to Salata performing oral sex on her, she said, before resuming unconsciousness.

When she opened her eyes a second time, she saw him penetrating her, the report indicates.

She told authorities she wasn't dreaming.

On the day he was arrested, a second victim, a 73-year-old female, had told police she went to Salata for a cosmetic medical treatment and he raped her during the procedure.

She said she was awake and alert throughout, adding that Salata was on top of her for no more than 15 seconds.

The lawsuit claims that the spa should have known that Salata was "unfit to serve in any position of authority or control over its female patients, did not exhibit appropriate boundaries with women, had a history and/or temperament that rendered him unfit to be alone and in a position of trust with female patients, was sexually inappropriate with patients, and/or posed a risk of perpetrating unwanted sexual contact."

It further states that as a principal in the business, "Jill Salata, RN knew or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known that Dr. Salata was unfit to be alone with its vulnerable female patients."

As a result, according to the lawsuit, the victim "suffered psychological and emotional injuries, mental anguish and the loss of enjoyment of life."

Operating out of a second-floor suite on Naples’ Fifth Avenue South shopping strip, Pura Vida Medical Spa focused on body contouring, skin care and spa treatments. It closed after Salata's arrest.

The business Facebook page and website are no longer active, while its Yelp review page remained active as of this week, with some reviewers mentioning the charges against Salata.

Tomas Rodriguez is a Breaking/Live News Reporter for the Naples Daily News and The News-Press. You can reach Tomas at TRodriguez@gannett.com or 772-333-5501. Connect with him on Twitter @TomasFRoBeltran, Instagram @tomasfrobeltran and Facebook @tomasrodrigueznews.

This article originally appeared on Naples Daily News: First of victims files suit against business of Naples physician accused in sexual assaut case