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West v. Epiphany Salon & Day Spa, LLC

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

April 25, 2017


          Session February 27, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Hamilton County No. 12C1476 L. Marie Williams, Judge

         This 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 Trial Court.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed; Case Remanded

          Thomas H. O'Neal and Jeffrey D. Boehm, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Suzanne Bishop West.

          Mary C. DeCamp and James F. Exum, III, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Epiphany Salon & Day Spa, LLC.

          D. Michael Swiney, C.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Charles D. Susano, Jr., and Thomas R. Frierson, II, JJ., joined.




         On 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.

         In 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 follows:
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 to.

         West 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.

         Dr. 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 presented with?
A. Well, we treat, you know, any sort of injury to the skin in which -- that we have the ability to do so.
Q. Okay.
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 ...

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