Dawn Noel Pignuola, who dances professionally as Dawn Noel, was hired to work on "Work Bitch," Spears' incessantly catchy single, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Pignuola attended the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts and the University of the Arts, getting her start in the dance world at Philly's Koresh Dance Company. She's toured with Madonna and Jennifer Lopez, and appeared on the TV shows "All My Children" and "Glee."
The suit alleges that last Aug. 19 Pignuola was scheduled to dance in the video when a "disheveled and confused" Spears showed up at the shoot.
After practicing for about a half hour, the suit alleges, "Britney twirled in the unbalanced and reckless manner, arms extended out to her sides, and forcefully backhanded plaintiff Dawn Noel directly in the face." Pignuola heard a crack, allegedly leading to an apology from Spears. Pignuola kept dancing until she "could no longer stand the pain and had to leave to go see a doctor," according to the suit.
Reps from Spears and Reign Deer Entertainment allegedly assured Pignuola that her medical bills would be paid for, but after months of waiting, the suit says, reps for Spears never paid.
"She's been very patient and I don't understand why they wouldn't just do the right thing," said Pignuola's attorney, Sark Ohanian of Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley.
Pignuola seeks damages for battery, negligence and medical expenses.
"It has affected her career. She did an episode of 'NCIS,' and the makeup artist noticed, so it causes her concern," Ohanian said. "She also has issues with breathing and sinuses, which, obviously, if you're dancing there's great concern. There's no union for dancers, like there is with actors, writers or directors, so they don't have the same type of insurance. She isn't looking to get rich off this."
Reign Deer Entertainment did not return a call for comment by press time.