On June 18, 2015, the defendant general dentist performed an unnecessary root canal retreatment procedure on a lower molar tooth of a woman in her mid-50’s. After the defendant perforated outside the root of the tooth, he negligently injected a disinfectant caustic chemical known as calcium hydroxide into the inferior alveolar nerve canal. The inferior alveolar nerve was penetrated and affected by the chemical and began sending pain signals.
Our client required surgery to attempt removal of the neurotoxic chemical. However, the subsequent treating oral surgeon could not safely remove all of the calcium hydroxide overfill from her inferior alveolar nerve, which was damaged the width of three teeth.
The patient has persistent pain and numbness as permanent sequelae of the gross overfill of calcium hydroxide. Her pain is made worse during exercise or exposure to cold windy weather. This is a significant loss for her because she had been a highly competitive athlete her entire life and was actively competing up to the point of her injury.
Her past medical specials were approximately $40,000, and her future medical expenses projected to be approximately $300,000.
Defendants admitted liability shortly before trial. Despite that, the insurance company’s highest offer was $90,000. The jury deliberated for four hours over two days before returning a verdict for $1,500,000.
When our client was 13 years-old, she went to see her dentist about some stubborn baby teeth. The dentist informed her that the teeth would not exfoliate on their own and recommended extraction by an oral surgeon. The dentist’s staff member filled out the paperwork incorrectly. Instead of requesting extraction of the baby teeth, the permanent adult first molars were marked on the referral form and radiograph. The oral surgeon then removed all four of the patient’s permanent first molars. These teeth should not have been removed. They are important to the occlusion and used as anchors for regular orthodontic treatment. As a result of the extractions of her adult teeth, she had large gaps between her teeth. She has required five years of orthodontic treatment and will require future implants. The case was tried for seven days against the dentist, practice, and oral surgeon, and settled while the jury was out. The judge dismissed the jurors, with thanks for their role in enabling the parties to settle. Counsel for the parties encountered jurors in the parking lot afterwards and learned that the jury had been almost finished with deliberations. The settlement was approximately 12% less than the principal amount of the verdict would have been.
Michele Bartoli Cain tried the case of Stephen Chinn v. Richard Fiorucci to a three hundred thousand dollar ($300,000) jury verdict.
The case involved a nerve injury resulting from negligence of an oral surgeon in undertaking a wisdom tooth extraction.
Defendants appealed the verdict.
The Virginia Supreme Court ruled for Chinn and affirmed the verdict in a unanimous decision rendered October 31, 2014. Read it here.
After a bench trial, Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Ronald B. Rubin awarded $404,592 to a dental patient who alleged that she had been a victim of unnecessary treatment -- the placement of twenty crowns on mostly on virgin teeth. The Court found also that defendant had not obtained informed consent. The award included the costs of root canal therapy resulting from negligent over-preparation of the crowned teeth and future expenses including crown replacement and implant therapy. The non-economic award included past and future pain and suffering.
Plaintiff Haidi Sun presented to defendant Anita Pik Lui Ho, DDS for general dental care. To correct a mild orthodontic rotation of her two front teeth, defendant recommended crowns on six upper front teeth. Defendant failed to offer options for less invasive treatment, including orthodontic treatment. Plaintiff contended that the crowns, once placed were not esthetic and created a malocclusion. Defendant then performed crown therapy on additional teeth. Following the placement of twenty crowns by defendant, plaintiff suffered a traumatic occlusion and could not chew or fully close her mouth. The twenty crowns were misshapen, did not have adequate margins when seated and did not match each other or her natural teeth in color or shape. All of the crowns were then replaced by a specialist in restorative dentistry. Plaintiff underwent multiple root canal treatments on most of the teeth crowned and treating doctors and experts for plaintiff opined that she would have potential loss of many of her natural teeth, necessitating future implants.
Defendant contended unsuccessfully that plaintiff rejected orthodontic therapy and was so happy with the initial six upper crowns that she requested additional upper and lower teeth be crowned to match. Defense experts testified that the standard of care was met and that the proposed future treatment was over-priced. In its decision, the Court rejected defense expert opinion as not well founded or credible.
Please read the Opinion written by the Honorable Judge Ronald Rubin, who observed that "this was one of the most well-tried cases that I have seen as a Circuit Court judge ... counsel are to be commended for the ... preparation, and their courtroom skills and demeanor were of the highest caliber of the profession."