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Sullivan v. O'Connor

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
296 N.E.2d 183 (1973)


Facts

Alice Sullivan (plaintiff), a professional entertainer, contracted with Dr. James O’Connor (defendant) to perform two operations on her nose to make it more attractive. Dr. O’Connor performed the two surgeries but failed to improve her nose and instead worsened her appearance. After the first two unsuccessful surgeries, O’Connor performed a third surgery which failed to correct Sullivan’s disfigurement and further surgeries could not improve her appearance either. Sullivan sued O’Connor for negligence and breach of contract. Her negligence claim was denied but she won on the breach of contract count. The trial judge instructed the jury that damages could be awarded on the breach of contract claim to compensate Sullivan for both her out-of-pocket expenses and her disfigurement, related emotional distress considering the nature of her profession and pain and suffering for the third surgery. The jury awarded damages in an amount that substantially exceeded the amount of Sullivan’s out-of-pocket expenses. O’Connor appealed the amount of damages awarded.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Kaplan, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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