May 29 -- A Westminster, Colo., woman has won a jury award of $3.1 million against a nail salon that she claims gave her herpes through the use of non-sterile instruments.
Kristina Preston, 29, said she contracted the virus when she went to the Top Nails salon in Aurora, Colo., on May 2, 1998, for her very first professional manicure.
When she left the salon, Preston said, "My cuticles on my thumbs were burning and wouldn't stop."
And the discomfort only got worse.
"Two days later they were swollen and tender," Preston said. "When I removed my nail polish, I knew something was wrong. They were getting worse. I started developing blisters, which spread to all 10 fingers."
When Preston went to the doctor, the tests came back positive for herpes and bacterial infections. At first she was in denial, but a second set of tests found the same thing.
Immune System Damaged
Six months after the manicure, Preston filed suit against the nail salon, contending the herpes has damaged her overall health and she can no longer live a normal life.
In addition to the sores, Preston says she began getting upper respiratory sicknesses, pneumonia, bronchitis, strep, ear infections, and was constantly fatigued. Her doctor said that her immune system was very run down, and that was why she was getting sick so easily.
She says the illnesses changed her life. She had been working as a model, but that soon came to an end.
"I was a career woman, an entrepreneur," Preston said. "I won a local award on being a business leader. I now have to live a very stress-free, relaxed life. I will never be able to keep a normal life or schedule and won't get hired anywhere."
Lawyers for the nail salon, which argued that the manicurist sanitized her working area and that Preston developed the herpes virus elsewhere, plan to appeal. Preston says it is likely that the award will be lowered upon appeal, though she believes nail the link between the herpes and the nail salon is solid.