Wilcox v. Mt. Pleasant Nails, Charleston County, Court of Common Pleas, SC (2012)

On Feb. 22, 2011, plaintiff Sherrel Wilcox went to Mount Pleasant Nails for a chin and upper lip wax. The wax applied to Wilcox’s face was extremely hot and caused her to suffer second-degree burns.

Wilcox sued Mount Pleasant Nails for negligence and alleged that the salon failed to exercise care to ensure her safety. More specifically, Wilcox argued that the salon had a duty to test the temperature of its wax before applying the wax to facial skin, which it failed to do.

Mount Pleasant Nails did not respond to Wilcox’s complaint in a timely manner and, upon motion of plaintiff’s counsel, was found to be in default. Defense counsel was present at the subsequent hearing on damages.

Wilcox submitted a claim for lost wages and $2,535 in past medical expenses, including a subsequent chemical peel to help reduce scarring caused by the initial injury. She also sought damages for pain and suffering and mental anguish. Wilcox sought total compensation of $30,000.

Following entry of a default judgment on liability, a damages hearing was held. The judge determined that the plaintiff’s damages totaled $30,000.

Ernest L. Neloms v. Parker Gas Company, Inc. d/b/a RapidXChange, 9:10-cv-01308, Beaufort County, United States District Court, Beaufort, SC (2010)

Plaintiff Ernest Neloms, was preparing for a Fourth of July seafood cookout with his family. He purchased a propane cylinder that had been collected, refilled, re-branded and resold by Defendant Parker Gas Company, Inc. d/b/a Rapid XChange, from a Kangaroo convenience store.

Plaintiff turned on the tank and it operated properly. Plaintiff then attempted to turn off the gas. He kept turning the valve, but the gas would not shut off. Unbeknownst to him, as he continued to turn the valve, he was actually unscrewing the valve stem from the tank. The valve came off in plaintiff’s hand. Pressurized gas began to escape from the tank and quickly settled toward the ground. Almost immediately, the gas ignited and plaintiff became engulfed in flames.

He was airlifted to the burn center in Augusta. He suffered deep second-degree burns over 24% of his body. He was admitted to ICU, where he underwent several skin graft surgeries. Although he was burned all over his body, most of the burns were on his legs and right arm. He was permanently scarred and impaired and was unable to continue his advancement and work as a U.S. Marine. He claimed $187,000 in medical costs. Plaintiff’s wife was also slightly burned and his home suffered substantial fire damage. Plaintiff lost many irreplaceable personal items.

Plaintiff alleged that he used the tank in a usual and customary manner. Plaintiff asserted that defendant’s actions were negligent, careless, reckless, willful and wanton and that defendant breached the implied warranty of merchantability, the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose and the expressed warranties made in its sales and marketing literature. Plaintiff argued that defendant was negligent when it placed on the market for sale a propane cylinder that had not been certified and should not have been refilled and resold. He argued that the cylinder and cylinder valve were defective and that defendant failed to inspect and test them before placing the cylinder on the market for sale.

Defendant contended that none of its acts or omissions were the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury. Defendant argued that plaintiff was comparatively negligent in that he abused, misused or modified the propane cylinder. Defendant further argued that its cylinders were inspected and refurbished in compliance with all applicable industry and government standards and regulations, and in conformity with prevailing industry customs and practices.

The parties settled for $1,100,000 three days prior to trial

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