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Mother blames pedicure for daughter's death

The mother of a woman who died in June has sued a nail salon alleging an infection from a pedicure contributed to her daughter's death.

Jessica Mears, of Sunnyvale, died in late June at age 43. Her mother, Diana Mears, filed a wrongful death lawsuit last week in Santa Clara County Superior Court against Top Hair and Nails Salon of Mountain View.

The suit claims Jessica Mears contracted a bacterial infection during a 2004 pedicure at the salon that left a large lesion on her left calf.

Jessica Mears had lupus, a chronic disease that compromises the immune system, and the lesion never completely healed, said Robert Bohn Jr., the San Jose attorney representing Diana Mears.

A final autopsy report for Jessica Mears will not be complete for several weeks, the Santa Clara County coroner's office said.

A number of women have reported similar infections following pedicures. They are believed to be caused by harmful bacteria that accumulate in improperly cleaned whirlpool foot baths.

An outbreak traced to a single salon in Santa Cruz County affected more than 100 pedicure customers in October 2000. Another outbreak of skin infections, involving 33 different salons and over 140 customers in Santa Clara County, was reported in November 2004.

No previous deaths in California have been attributed to bacteria from pedicures, according to California's Department of Consumer Affairs.