Tuesday, October 3, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Hair Today, Super Infection Tomorrow

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (CN) - While demonstrating a hair-coloring technique, a beauty school instructor burned her student's hair down to the follicles, causing a super infection, the student claims in court.

Carrie Clinton says Kathleen Lytle, owner of Lytle's Redwood Empire Beauty College, brought her onto the stage to model coloring techniques in May 2011.

Lytle allegedly applied bleach from 10:20 to 11:15 a.m., even though Clinton says she complained early on that her scalp felt "tingly and itchy." As Lytle continued to apply the bleach, Clinton says her scalp began burning so much that "she felt she couldn't stand it."

Since Lytle had another class, she allegedly finished applying the bleach and then took Clinton to the salon for another stylist to finish.

While in the salon, Clinton claims she "had to get up and pace because she was so uncomfortable with itching and burning and pain, and her stomach started feeling nauseous."

The stylist, Linda, allegedly wanted to wait to remove the bleach even though Clinton says her "scalp felt like it was burning even more and she was even more nauseous."

Another student finally rinsed and shampooed her at 12:33, according to the complaint in Sonoma County Superior Court.

"It was very uncomfortable for plaintiff and even became frightening because students who came over to check on her noticed blisters, burns and abrasions all over," Clinton says.

The day allegedly ended with students applying triple antibiotic ointment on her scalp, but Clinton's ordeal had just begun. Unable to sleep that night because she couldn't lay her head down, she returned to school the next day and Linda suggested Clinton see a doctor, according to the complaint.

She says the doctor gave her ibuprofen for swelling, Benadryl for sensitivity and Vicodin for pain and a topical antibiotic. The doctor also allegedly gave her Keflex antibiotics, but told her to wait a couple of days to see if she needed them.

Two days later a doctor ordered Clinton to begin taking the stronger antibiotics, according to the complaint. She says a doctor confirmed the following day, Monday, that Clinton was developing a super infection and upped the antibiotic dosage to three a day.

"By Tuesday evening, plaintiff's head was really uncomfortable and she spiked a fever, so she went to the Urgent Care," the complaint states. "They found that the infection was getting worse and gave her a shot of really strong antibiotics and told her to come back the following day at 2 p.m. and get another one. They also upped her antibiotic dosage to four a day."

Clinton says Lytle initially seemed sympathetic.

"Kathy [Lytle] was crying and said how sorry she was and asked when plaintiff was going to be able to wash her hair," the complaint states. "She begged to be allowed to do it, and plaintiff agreed."

But Lytle's worry over Clinton's condition was allegedly short-lived. After getting the brush-off, Clinton says she washed her own hair and found sores covering her head.

"It took weeks for the sores to heal," according to the complaint. "There have also been severe long term effects. Plaintiff's hair is very different now than the hair she had before. She continues to have dry spots which are scaly and itchy. The texture is different and her hair feels like straw. It also looks very different, and plaintiff is humiliated at her appearance.

"Because of the damage to her scalp and hair follicles, she has to undergo a special procedure when she has her hair done, which requires a four-hour visit at a cost of about $360 every four weeks. Her additional costs in hair care for the first year alone were more than $4,500. Plaintiff is informed and believes that those additional annual costs for hair care will likely continue for several years, and perhaps even longer."

Clinton says her hair "will never look the same or have the same consistency, which continues to cause her great distress in part because she takes so much pride in her appearance."

Clinton says Lytle's actions also ruined her chances of ever becoming a hair stylist.

She seeks $100,000 in damages for negligence and emotional distress. Clinton is represented by Stephen Duggan of Healdsburg, Calif.

Categories / Uncategorized

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.