London — A High Court judge here has awarded a record $10 million to a British businesswoman who claimed nerve damage resulting from a botched facelift ruined her consulting business and family life, ABC News reports.
Penny Johnson, 49, testified that she went to cosmetic surgeon Le Roux Fourie, M.D., to reshape her nose and eliminate dark circles under her eyes. Ms. Johnson says the doctor talked her into a facelift and replacement of breast implants, and that after undergoing surgery, she developed palsy on the right side of her face. That improved following corrective surgery, but Ms. Johnson says she then developed uncontrollable right-side twitching, a grimace and the inability to close her right eye.
Unable to work, Ms. Johnson sued Dr. Fourie in 2007 for $87 million, the value of her share in a consulting firm she ran with her husband. She also claimed the botched procedure had a deep impact on her family life.
Dr. Fourie admitted negligence, but his attorneys claimed Ms. Johnson was seeking excessive compensation.
ABC News interviewed Phil Haeck, M.D., a Seattle plastic surgeon and president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. He called the British award “astounding” and noted that when U.S. juries determine economic damages in plastic surgery cases, they tend to take into consideration that plastic surgeons’ liability insurance on average covers $1 million per incident. He said in rare cases, juries will exceed that amount “to send a very strong message to the surgeon.” In California and Texas, he said, economic awards are capped at $250,000, although medical damages can be “as high as needed.”