Sullivan v. O'connor

363 Mass. 579, 296 N.E.2d 183 (1973)

Facts

O'Connor (D), a plastic surgeon, promised to enhance and improve Sullivan's (P) beauty by giving her a nose job. P was an entertainer. After three operations, P's nose ended up looking worse than before the operations began. D told P that only two operations would be required but it in fact required three. P was left with an asymmetrical nose which was flat and broad and bulbous in other areas. No more improvement in her look was possible. P sued for breach of contract and negligence. The judge instructed the jury that P was entitled to recover her out of pocket expenses incident to the operations, and that P could only recover the damages directly, naturally, proximately, and foreseeably from D’s breach of promise. The trial judge instructed that these damages would comprehend damages for disfigurement including the effects of this upon the mind of P and that the jury should consider the fact that P was an entertainer and the effect this would have on her professional career. The judge also instructed the jury that pain and suffering were compensable in the third operation but not the first two and that because there was no proof that any loss of earnings had occurred that that element of damages should not enter into their verdict. The jury found for P on the breach of contract count, and for D on the negligence issue. P was awarded damages for out-of-pocket expenses, and damages for the pain, suffering, and mental distress from the third operation. D appealed: pain, suffering, and mental distress are not proper damages for a breach of contract.