In a decision dated February 19, 2002 and filed February 28, 2002 the court
found the defendant liable for all injuries sustained by claimant, as a result
of an incident occurring on November 30, 1999. Therefore, this aspect of the
bifurcated trial related solely to the issue of damages.
This claim involved an altercation between claimant, Thomas
, and Kevin Knox, occurring on November 30, 1999 at the Educational Opportunity
Center (Center) in Buffalo, New York. Both Mr. Hall and Mr. Knox were students
at the Center, and 17 years old. During this altercation, claimant was slashed
and cut on the left cheek by Mr. Knox with the blade of a box cutter.
After being cut, claimant was brought by ambulance to Sheehan Memorial
Hospital, where his laceration was cleaned an sutured. The hospital records
(Exhibit 20) indicate claimant was given a local anesthetic in the area of his
laceration. The laceration was cleaned with a Betadine solution, and then
sutured together in two layers. One layer of sutures closed the subcutaneous
tissue, while 12 external sutures closed the outside of the wound. The claimant
was instructed to return to the clinic in five days for removal of the sutures.
Claimant was treated at the hospital for approximately three and one half hours.
Claimant, who is now 19 years old, testified the area of his laceration on his
left cheek was swollen for approximately one- half to two months after the
incident. He stated the laceration felt painful for approximately six months
after the incident. Claimant testified that when he touches the scar he feels
his upper lip tingle. However, there was no medical proof to explain the cause
of this. According to claimant, he believes he has less self-esteem because of
the scar on his left cheek. He stated he has been the subject of ridicule
because of the scar. However, no proof was offered of specific instances where
claimant was ridiculed. Claimant testified that after the incident, he was
suspended from school, and did not return until about one and a half years
Claimant also has a significant scar on his lip. This is a vertical scar
running the length of claimant's lip, from the base of his left nostril to the
tip of his upper lip. Claimant testified he has had this scar since he was
eight years old, when he ran into a parked car.
Claimant's mother, Stephanie Hall, testified she observed her son when he
returned from the hospital on November 30, 1999. She stated his face was
swollen around the laceration, and she noticed stitches in his cheek. Ms. Hall
claimed she has told her son she does not like the scar, and wants it revised.
The court closely observed the well healed scar on claimant's left cheek. It
appeared to be approximately one inch long and one-eighth inch wide. When the
court observed claimant from a distance of approximately 20 feet, the left cheek
scar was not visible to the court. However, the scar on claimant's lip was
The court believes the scar on claimant's lip, from his accident at eight
years of age, is a much more cosmetically significant disfigurement than
claimant's left cheek scar, which is not that noticeable. Exhibits 21 and 22
are photographs of claimant's face and left cheek scar. They were taken in May
2000. The court has given little weight to these photographs in assessing the
seriousness of the scar. They were taken a short time after the accident of
November 30, 1999, before the healing process could fully evolve. Most
importantly, the lighting in the photographs appears to be such as to enhance
and overemphasize the appearance of the scar. The photographs depict claimant
as a light skinned African American, while in person, his complexion is much
Taking all of the foregoing factors into consideration, the court awards
claimant $ 9,000.00, together with appropriate interest at the rate of 9% from
February 19, 2002 (the date of the liability decision), for all past and future
pain and suffering arising from the incident of November 30, 1999. No award is
made for any past and future medical expenses or for damages to claimant,
Stephanie Hall, individually, since there was no proof at trial for these items.
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.