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Panama City Beach, Florida—Darrah Kinnaman wanted to be in with the “cool” kids like any other 13-year-old girl. So, when she went on vacation with family friends in August 2008, she paid a visit to the Island Tropical Department Stores to get a stud piercing in her upper ear cartilage. The only problem was that Darrah’s parents weren’t present to give their permission—and the problems didn’t stop there for Darrah.

According to a lawsuit filed by Darrah’s parents, the department store also failed to warn the young girl that cartilage piercings are considered “high risk” because of the potential for infection. Furthermore, Darrah’s parents also allege that the store didn’t inform the girl how to properly care for her new piercing, leading to days of searing pain and a permanent ear disfigurement. In fact, when Darrah returned home to Indiana from her vacation, her parents rushed her to the emergency room. Ultimately, she spent two days in the hospital in serious pain, while doctors treated the infection.

Darrah’s ear is healed but left scarred. She is too young to undergo plastic surgery, especially since she is still growing. She may be able to undergo surgery in the future, but until that time she will have to live with the disfigured ear. Her family is seeking medical expenses, the cost of future medical expenses, and damages for their daughter’s pain and suffering.

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