Posted on May 04, 2006
Jury awards woman $127,920 in suit over breast surgery
By William C. Lhotka
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
A jury awarded $127,920 on Tuesday to a then-Hooters restaurant worker who suffered a burn on her right breast during augmentation surgery two years ago.
The jury in St. Louis County Circuit Court found in favor of Candice Cross of St. Charles, and against Dr. James Scheu, a plastic surgeon with offices in Clayton.
Jurors gave Cross $100,000 for future noneconomic damages, such as mental anguish and embarrassment, and $25,000 for past noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering. It also gave her $2,920 for past economic damages - half the cost of her surgery.
Scheu, who performed the operation at the North County Surgery Center in Hazelwood on May 23, 2003, testified there had been no burns among hundreds of such procedures over his 20-year career.
Court records show Cross, 19, was a student in Columbia, Mo., and a part-time employee at Hooters. The chain is known for waitresses clad in shorts and tight T-shirts.
She testified that she met with Scheu at the recommendation of her grandmother, a nurse, and decided to have breast enlargement surgery.
Her attorney, Bill Walker, blamed a hot "sizer" for the burn. A sizer is a device placed temporarily in the breast at the start of the procedure to determine the size of the implant to be used. Sizers are sterilized by washing and a heat treatment before use.
Scheu testified that a nurse handed him a sizer and told him it was warm or hot. He said he held it in both hands and decided it was not hot enough to hurt Cross, who was under anesthesia.
Scheu said he noticed a reddening below his incision on the right breast into which he had placed the sizer and had a nurse place cold gauze on it after surgery. The skin was unbroken, he said.
Two days later, Cross testified, there was open bleeding and drainage that lasted for six weeks. She said she still feels some pain when she showers in hot water.
"I see it every day," she told the jury. "It makes me self-conscious. It makes me mad."