Session February 27, 2017
from the Circuit Court for Hamilton County No. 12C1476 L.
Marie Williams, Judge
appeal concerns a jury award of damages in a negligence case.
Suzanne Bishop West ("West") sued Epiphany Salon
& Day Spa, LLC ("Epiphany") in the Circuit
Court for Hamilton County ("the Trial Court") for
damages resulting from a facial she received that burned her
face. Epiphany conceded liability and the matter went before
a jury for a determination of damages. The jury awarded West
$125, 000 in damages. Epiphany filed a motion for remittitur.
The Trial Court, finding the award excessive, reduced the
award from $125, 000 to $47, 800. West appeals to this Court,
asking that we restore the original jury award of $125, 000.
Finding no reversible error, we affirm the judgment of the
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
Court Affirmed; Case Remanded
H. O'Neal and Jeffrey D. Boehm, Chattanooga, Tennessee,
for the appellant, Suzanne Bishop West.
C. DeCamp and James F. Exum, III, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for
the appellee, Epiphany Salon & Day Spa, LLC.
Michael Swiney, C.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Charles D. Susano, Jr., and Thomas R. Frierson, II,
MICHAEL SWINEY, CHIEF JUDGE
January 12, 2012, West, owner of a boutique clothing store in
Chattanooga, went to Epiphany to receive a facial treatment.
West's Mother had given her a gift certificate for the
service. West's face began burning upon application of
the treatment. West rushed home in pain.
December 2012, West sued Epiphany in the Trial Court for
damages to her face resulting from Epiphany's alleged
negligence. In January 2013, Epiphany filed its answer. In
May 2016, Epiphany filed its amended answer in which it
conceded liability. This left only the issue of damages to be
determined by a jury. Trial was held over the course of two
days in July 2016.
West testified to the impact the facial had upon her as
Q. Why did you file this lawsuit?
A. Primarily because my face never improved, and that's
why I waited as long as I did to file because I kept hoping
and hoping that the damage from the facial would get better
and it didn't, and that's why I filed the lawsuit. Q.
Tell the jury how this incident that happened to you on
January 12, 2012, this facial, has affected your life over
the last four and a half years. A. Well, other than looking
in the mirror every day and seeing the damage from the
facial. I mean, major lifestyle changes. It takes a lot
longer for me to do my makeup every morning to cover
everything. You know, appointments with attorneys,
appointments with doctors, painful laser treatments,
purchasing of multiple products, thousands of dollars of
products trying to experiment with what covers a brown spot,
what covers rosacea, what covers hyperpigmentation, what
covers, you know, multiple marks on my face and, you know. I
mean, it's totally changed my life, and I felt like I had
testified to $6, 605 worth of products she had used since the
incident to try to remedy the redness and marks on her face.
According to West, her life had changed in that she now had
to wear a higher SPF sunscreen, a hat, and big sunglasses in
the sun. West also stated that she now spent half an hour
putting on makeup each morning.
Rodney Susong, a dermatologist who treated West, testified as
an expert for West. West had undergone three laser treatments
on her face. The total cost of Dr. Susong's medical
treatment for West was approximately $2, 008. Dr. Susong
testified to West's treatment as follows:
Q. If you can recall, when did you first see her?
A. I saw her I think March 13th of 2012.
Q. All right. And what history did you take from her as to
why she was wanting to see you?
A. She came to me because she had had a reaction to a
chemical peel, I think which was given in January of that
year, four to six weeks prior to her visit. And she had
noticed that her face peeled and it burned after its
application, and she was concerned about the resulting effect
on her skin.
Q. Whether from chemical burns, fire burns, sunburns, was it
unusual for you to see and treat the condition that she
A. Well, we treat, you know, any sort of injury to the skin
in which -- that we have the ability to do so.
A. Some injuries require, you know, surgical intervention. So
if you have a burn, for example, and the burn goes deeply,
then you're going to need surgical intervention. For
burns or any kind of injury that's superficial, then we
usually treat those.
Q. All right. Did you examine Ms. West?
A. I did. I saw her.
Q. What was your impression of the severity of her condition?
A. What I saw was that she had some redness, she had some
broken capillaries. She had a few freckles. She had ...