Barbershop owner Young Hwan Choi, 72, allegedly had a side business of doing cosmetic surgery and the results were as predictable as their were criminal. Various women suffered facial scars from the laser surgery. What is striking is that the police released images of his barbershop, suggesting that the women may have actually gone to the barbershop for the surgery as opposed to some fraudulent surgery center. If true, the bizarre decision of these victims could factor into any tort damages as plaintiff’s conduct questions.
Choi faces charges of aggravated assault and practicing medicine without a license. A woman came forward to the Palisades Park Police Department earlier this month to report scarring on her face and chin after a procedure with Choi, 72. The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office statement does not allege any location was used other than the barbershop.
The criminal charges should not be hard to prove. Any tort action could prove more interesting. There could be a claim of per se negligence. Moreover, people holding themselves out as professionals are generally subject to the same standard as a professional in determining if their actions were negligent. Either way, the negligence element should be easy to prove. It is the plaintiffs’ conduct that raises a fascinating twist.
I believe that New Jersey is a “modified” comparative fault state where a plaintiff may not recover if her own negligence is greater than that of the defendant. Damages are reduced by the percentage of fault by the plaintiff. person our persons against whom recovery is sought. Thus, New Jersey imposes a “50%” qualifier on a plaintiff’s recovery: if the jury determines that the plaintiff is more than 50% responsible for the incident causing the alleged injury, then the plaintiff is precluded from obtaining an award of damages.
Going to a barber for cosmetic surgery is right up there with going to gas stations for your sushi. While Choi would likely be found more responsible, the jury would be challenged to draw the comparative fault line on this one.