The plaintiff, age twenty-eight, went to the office of the defendant dentist in 2005 for the removal of the lower left wisdom tooth. During the procedure the plaintiff’s lingual nerve was severed. The plaintiff was referred to an oral surgeon to repair the nerve damage. Despite multiple subsequent surgeries, the plaintiff’s injury was irreparable, resulting in severe and chronic pain. The plaintiff claimed negligence by the defendant dentist in using a surgical technique which was unnecessarily invasive and also claimed that the method used for the extraction was not appropriate.
The plaintiff argued that the technique used by the defendant dentist was not taught by any dental school.
The defendant dentist claimed that the technique he used was proper and had been taught to him by the head of a college oral surgery department. The defendant dentist also claimed that the nerve injury was from the use of an elevator to extract the tooth, which was a common practice.
The plaintiff was able to present the person referenced by the defendant dentist as having taught him his technique (whom the defendant dentist had claimed was deceased). This individual testified that neither he nor any other instructor at the college would have taught such a surgical technique.
The matter was initially tried to a defense verdict, which was set aside on appeal and remanded for a new trial. Prior to retrial, the parties entered a high/low agreement of $875,000/$195,000. The matter was subsequently settled for $875,000 four hours after the jury announced having reached a verdict on liability, but needed more time to deliberate the issue of damages.
With permission from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts; Lewis Laska, Editor, 901 Church St., Nashville, TN 37203-3411, 1-800-298-6288.