Tampa woman reaches $1.75 million settlement for losing leg after pedicure

The infection brought years of hardship that will continue for Clara Shellman, her attorney said, including medical expenses and the need for others to care for her.
A Tampa woman reached a settlement of $1.75 million with a nail salon that cut her foot, forcing her to amputate her leg.
A Tampa woman reached a settlement of $1.75 million with a nail salon that cut her foot, forcing her to amputate her leg. [ Photo illustration by ASHLEY DYE and MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published Dec. 28, 2021|Updated Dec. 28, 2021

A trip to the nail salon turned into a nightmare for Clara Shellman.

An employee with Tammy’s Nails 2 at 2507 W Hillsborough Ave. in Tampa cut Shellman’s foot while she was getting a pedicure in September 2018, according to a lawsuit. The cut became infected and quickly spread, aggravated by Shellman’s severe peripheral arterial disease. Shellman had to have her leg amputated.

Now, over three years later, Shellman, 55, has reached a settlement with Tammy’s Nails 2, according to court documents filed Dec. 16. The documents don’t spell out the amount, but her attorney said it’s $1.75 million.

“She was stunned, shocked, crying and giddy, all at the same time,” Paul Fulmer, the attorney, said Thursday.

The infection brought years of hardship that will continue for Shellman, Fulmer said. Burdened by medical expenses from the amputation, Shellman — mother of an elementary school-aged daughter — lost her home. Unable to walk, she needed help caring for herself and now lives with relatives.

Her lawsuit, filed in May 2020, said the salon worker used tools and equipment that were so dirty they posed a danger to customers. The company failed to follow its own policies, train its workers and properly maintain equipment, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit names no individuals as defendants, only Tammy’s Nails 2.

In an answer to the lawsuit, filed a month later, Tammy’s Nails 2 said Shellman was at fault in the amputation because she didn’t immediately seek medical care or “take reasonable efforts to prevent the development of infection.”

The business initially also denied Shellman’s claim that the tools used during her pedicure were dirty.

Fulmer, who works in Tampa with the Morgan & Morgan law firm, said Shellman deserved the full amount of the settlement but they were surprised Tammy’s Nails 2 agreed to $1.75 million considering Shellman’s pre-existing condition.

Peripheral arterial disease is a circulatory condition in which narrowed blood vessels reduce blood flow to the limbs. The Cleveland Clinic said injuries to the extremities can be worse in people who suffer from the disease.

On its website, Morgan & Morgan said its attorneys receive a fixed percentage of any compensation awarded in civil cases, often 30-35 percent, minus legal expenses.

The attorneys representing Tammy’s Nails 2, Daniel Shapiro and Carlos Morales of Tampa, could not be reached for comment Monday.

A nail salon is still operating at the Hillsborough Avenue address given in the lawsuit for Tammy’s Nails 2. But since Dec. 8, the salon has operated as Tampa Nails 10102, and has a different representative, according to Florida Department of State records. An individual who answered the phone there Monday said the salon would have no comment on the lawsuit and settlement.

Two salons advertising as Tammy’s Nails are operating at different addresses in Tampa — at 9025 N Florida Ave. and at 9508 N 10th St. Calls to both locations went unanswered Monday. The Florida Avenue location has been registered with the state as Tammy’s Nails 2 since March 2017.