23-Year-Old Model Sues for $5 Million Over 'Reckless' Hair Cut Injury

Michelle Kalinkina
Model Michelle Kalinkina in March 2016 at a movie premiere. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for IMG

A prominent celebrity stylist has found himself in a hairy situation after allegedly nicking a model with his shears while trimming her locks. Martino Cartier was in a hurry while giving a public hair-cutting demonstration at the Jacob Javitz Center on March 7 when he nipped the neck of “freelance model” Michelle Kalinkina, according to the New York Post.

Now Kalinkina, who also works as a vintage wardrobe stylist, according to the article, has filed a lawsuit against Cartier for “pain, shock, and mental anguish.” The 23-year-old alleges that the stylist was being “careless, negligent, and reckless,” and that he left her with a visible scar, which, as a model, she says, could threaten her livelihood. She is claiming $5 million in damages.

My true form: fennel

A photo posted by Michelle Kalinkina (@missmalinkakalinka) on Oct 23, 2016 at 5:32pm PDT

According to the Daily Mail, the suit states that Cartier had a professional obligation to be “safe, prudent, and careful.” Cartier is no novice. The New York-based stylist owns a salon that’s been featured in Vogue and at the Golden Globes. He has yet to respond to the suit or the accusations.

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Women who make a career on their appearance (or are trying to) can be litigious. Bad-hair days have prompted similar lawsuits in the past. In October 2011, an aspiring Brazilian model, Myrella Ikeda, was devastated when a conditioning treatment at New York’s famous J. Sisters Salon — whose clientele includes a raft of celebrities — damaged her blond mane so badly that she left with a mullet, according to the New York Post, which ran heartbreaking side-by-side photos showing Ikeda beaming before the treatment and bawling as she showed off the disastrous results.

The struggling model filed a $1.5 million lawsuit, claiming, “Ikeda arrived at the salon anticipating that in a few hours she would have spectacular hair that would help launch a modeling career. But eight hours later, she left with physical and emotional trauma: her hair and scalp were burned, her modeling plans were ruined, and she could not show herself publicly.”

Stylist Antonio Luis Rosa claimed to have been using a “natural organic product” on Ikeda, according to the article, but the chemicals started to sting, and when he took a flat iron to her hair, the strands started to “fall, burnt and crumbled,” leaving Ikeda in a state of shock. Salon owner Jonice Padilha told the Post in 2014, when the article was published: “I don’t know if it was the product or if he left it on too long.”

It gets even more hair-raising. In February, Elizabeth Smith — not a model — sued a San Diego salon for allegedly causing her to have a stroke as a result of a hair-washing appointment. Smith claimed that at Blowbunny: Blow Dry & Hair Extension Bar in December 2013, “her neck was ‘hyper-extended’ due to a ‘defective’ shampoo bowl and chair,” the publication says.

The suit claimed that the awkward position she was subjected to caused one of her spinal vertebrae to cut into an artery, resulting in the stroke — which ultimately left her with her left eye impaired and an “unsteady gait and loss of motor skills in her left hand.” The salon denied the allegations of negligence and countered that their customer had “failed to exercise any degree of care for her own safety, and as a result proximately caused her own injuries.”

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Whether or not any of these suits holds water, hair salons, as part of the customer-service industry, are well-advised to take legal precautions. Marine Agency Insurance Services encourages salons to purchase insurance coverage, citing five of the most common types of injuries: chemically induced scalp or eye injuries, slips and falls, cuts, burned or damaged hair, and injuries caused by other services, such as manicures, massages, and tanning.

The agency notes on its website, “The truth is, a hair salon can be dangerous, and anytime an employee or owner has been negligent, a client may have the right to sue.” Salon owners and clients, consider yourselves warned.

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