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Pedicure leads to infection, then $1M verdict in Henrico

salon_mainA Richmond woman who developed an infection in her legs after getting a pedicure won a verdict of just over a million dollars from a Richmond-area salon this month.

Richmond lawyers James “Jamie” Kessel and Robert C.T. Reed represented Samantha Payne in a case against Red Nails and Thu-Huong Thi Vo.

In 2012, Payne went to the salon for a routine pedicure, but developed a mycobacterial infection in both legs as a result. The infection produced painful boils and lesions on her legs that required multiple surgeries to correct.

Doctors believed the kind of infection contracted was rare. But because of the nature of Payne’s injuries, Kessel and Reed secured a verdict awarded by Judge John Marshall in Henrico County Circuit Court.

It’s not uncommon for salons to face litigation from customers who develop various injuries, but this instance proved different from previous cases.

“It’s not the most common type of case,” Kessel said. “The types of injuries sustained were more severe than what you’d normally see, and also the nature of how it happened was a factor.”

The salon owner and employees admitted that they did not follow the guidelines set for cleaning and disinfecting the pedicure tools and basins in the salon. Reed added that the salon did not even have the instructions on how to properly maintain the equipment. The Virginia Board of Barbers and Cosmetology revoked the salon’s license as a result.

Marshall awarded Payne $765,892.75 plus $187,643.74 in interest, with $50,000 in punitive damages. In total the damages amounted to $1,003,536.47 for medical bills, lost wages, pain, inconvenience, disfigurement, and punitive damages.

“The award is significant and unique, for sure,” Reed said.

“We figured out some of the issues to look for in this case,” Kessel added. “There are guidelines in Virginia which require salons to clean and maintain the different tools and basins. But it ultimately came down to improper sanitization.”

Kessel and Reed said Payne hopes her experience might shed light on some of the unknown dangers out there.

“It’s important to get it out there and make people aware,” Kessel said. “People will go into these salons and implicitly trust that everything is safe and clean. Sometimes that isn’t exactly the case.”

“It is a definite wake-up call within the industry, forcing salons to be more diligent in following sanitization procedures,” Reed added.