Piccuta Law Group Files Monterey Dental Malpractice Lawsuit
The personal injury attorneys at Piccuta Law Group have filed their latest lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed against a dentist and alleges that the dentist committed malpractice on a minor. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that the dentist was negligent when he removed the adult tooth of his minor patient when he intended to extract a baby tooth instead.
The Allegations in the Dental Malpractice Lawsuit
The lawsuit alleges that the minor client hired the dentist to extract a baby canine tooth. However, instead of removing the baby canine tooth, the dentist removed the adult canine tooth that had just broken through the gum surface. Realizing his error, the dentist then re-implanted the adult tooth and removed the baby tooth. He then concealed his mistake from the minor and her parents and sent them on their way acting as if the procedure was without problems.
Over the course of the next few days, the child had increasing pain, discomfort and problems with the tooth. The child’s mother called the dentist’s office several times with complaints. Eventually, the dentist called the parents into the office and confessed that he had extracted the wrong tooth. The dentist told the child’s parents that he panicked and then put it back in quickly.
Allegations from the lawsuit are below:
10. On April 4th, 2019, Plaintiff underwent a procedure with the Dentist to have a baby canine tooth extraction to help with furthering orthodontic treatment.
11. Both Plaintiff’s adult canine tooth (#11) and baby canine tooth (H) had erupted her gums and were visible.
12. The procedure was performed negligently and not to the standard of care.
13. Instead of extracting Plaintiff’s baby canine tooth (H), the Dentist extracted Plaintiff’s permanent adult canine tooth (#11).
14. Realizing his mistake, the Dentist also extracted the correct tooth (H) and then implanted the extracted adult canine tooth (#11) back into Plaintiff’s mouth.
15. Immediately after the procedure, the Dentist assured Plaintiff and her mother that everything went fine and that the procedure was successful without any complications.
16. The Dentist intentionally concealed the fact that he had wrongfully extracted Plaintiff’s adult canine tooth (#11).
17. The Dentist intentionally concealed the fact that he had implanted the wrongfully extracted adult canine tooth (#11) back into Plaintiff’s mouth.
18. After leaving the appointment, Plaintiff experienced excessive bleeding lasting approximately five hours.
19. Plaintiff then experienced extreme pain and did not eat the rest of the day. Plaintiff’s pain was so severe that she woke up throughout the night and her mother gave her children’s pain medication every 2-4 hours.
20. Because Plaintiff’s pain was so severe, the next morning on April 5th, 2019, her mother called the dental practice and told them about the extreme pain Plaintiff was experiencing. Plaintiff’s mother asked what should be done. No one divulged what had happened at that time and simply told Plaintiff’s mother to have Plaintiff rinse with salt water.
21. A dark area on Plaintiff’s right gum by the adult canine tooth (#11) was visible and it appeared as if it had been pierced.
22. Plaintiff spent the entire day of April 5th, 2019 in excruciating pain.
23. On April 6th, 2019, due to the continuing pain Plaintiff was experiencing, her mother again called the dental office and obtained the phone number for the on-call dentist for that weekend. Plaintiff’s mother called the on-call dentist and described the amount of pain that Plaintiff was in and explained that the area around Plaintiff’s extracted tooth looked odd. Specifically, that the gums near it appeared dead and looked white. The on-call dentist requested photographs and Plaintiff’s mother sent. The on-call dentist did not disclose that the dentist had wrongfully extracted the adult canine and then implanted it back into Plaintiff’s mouth.
24. Plaintiff spent the entire day of April 6th, 2019 in excruciating pain.
25. On the morning of April 7th, 2019, Plaintiff’s mother again contacted the on-call dentist because of the pain that Plaintiff was still in. She also sent the on-call dentist a photograph of a puss-filled blister that had developed above the wrongfully extracted and implanted adult canine tooth (#11). The on-call dentist prescribed antibiotics. The on-call dentist did not disclose that Plaintiff’s adult canine tooth (#11) had been wrongfully extracted.
26. Late in the afternoon of April 7th, 2019, the dentist sent a message to Plaintiff’s mother telling her that he wanted to meet with her and Plaintiff’s father at 6:15 PM to check Plaintiff’s tooth extraction area. The dentist did not disclose that he wrongfully extracted Plaintiff’s adult canine tooth and implanted it back in at this time.
27. Plaintiff and her parents met with the dentist at his dental practice on the night of April 7th, 2019. He examined the extraction area and took x-rays. The dentist then divulged that he had wrongfully extracted Plaintiff’s adult canine tooth (#11) and implanted it back in. He also divulged that he concealed this from Plaintiff and her parents.
28. The dentist also disclosed that he left for a conference in Southern California on the day of the wrongful tooth extraction and just returned and that is why he did not address it sooner.
29. Plaintiff then had several complications with the tooth (#11) and surrounding site and was required to meet with several specialists incurring substantial dental expenses.
30. Plaintiff’s wrongfully extracted tooth (#11) is compromised and is susceptible to additional complications requiring her to have future dental care and procedures, she would not otherwise require but for the wrongful actions of the dentist.
The Damages Sought in the Dental Malpractice Lawsuit
As a result of the alleged dental malpractice, the child was forced to undergo a root canal and unnecessary pain and suffering. Dental experts have offered the opinion that the wrongfully extracted tooth now has the potential to deteriorate at any time. This would then require the child to receive a dental implant and cosmetic crown after her jaw has fully developed. Since the client is a child, if this was to happen, she would likely need several crowns over the course of her lifetime. Needless to say, the child has been exposed to unnecessary pain and suffering and will be exposed to future pain and suffering, should her tooth deteriorate in the future.
Unfortunately, filling a lawsuit is often required to make the insurance company treat an injured person fairly and pay what the claim is truly worth.
The personal injury attorneys at the Piccuta Law Group attempted to resolve the client’s claim with the dentist’s insurance company. However, the insurance company only made low-ball offers, first $10,000 and then $15,000. Having received no reasonable settlement offers for the dentist’s gross malpractice, our attorneys filed a lawsuit against him seeking fair compensation. Unfortunately, filling a lawsuit is often required to make the insurance company treat an injured person fairly and pay what the claim is truly worth. Even after a lawsuit is filed, the insurance company may still refuse to do so until a jury forces it to by rendering a verdict setting forth what fair compensation actually is.
The Personal Injury Lawsuit Seeks Fair Compensation and Punitive Damages
The lawsuit advances claims for dental malpractice/professional negligence, dental battery and intentional misrepresentation. With respect to the intentional misrepresentation claim, the lawsuit alleges that the dentist purposefully concealed his misconduct and told the family nothing went wrong with the procedure. Specifically, that he did not tell the patient or the family what he had done and only fessed up, after the fact, because of the continuing pain, problems and symptoms the client was experiencing.
The lawsuit alleges that at the time the dentist made the misrepresentations, he knew they were false. The lawsuit also alleges that as a result of the dentist’s purposeful concealment of the truth, the client was exposed to unnecessary and prolonged pain and suffering and has incurred additional and unnecessary dental expenses. The lawsuit seeks an award of past and future pain and suffering and past and future dental expenses.
The Intentional Concealment and Conduct of the Dentist May Give Rise to Punitive Damages
As a result of the dentist’s purposeful concealment of his misconduct, he may be ordered to pay punitive damages. Punitive damages may be awarded if a jury finds by clear and convincing evidence that the dentist acted with malice, oppression or fraud. They serve the purpose of punishing the wrongdoer and deterring him and others from similar misconduct in the future. With respect to fraud, the California form jury instructions require that the jury find that a defendant “intentionally misrepresented or concealed a material fact and did so intending to harm” the victim.
California has strict rules on when you can allege punitive damages against a doctor or dentist related to his or her malpractice. California Code of Civil Procedure § 425.13 sets forth that a court order is required in order to do so. Specifically, subsection (a) sets forth:
In any action for damages arising out of the professional negligence of a health care provider, no claim for punitive damages shall be included in a complaint or other pleading unless the court enters an order allowing an amended pleading that includes a claim for punitive damages to be filed. The court may allow the filing of an amended pleading claiming punitive damages on a motion by the party seeking the amended pleading and on the basis of the supporting and opposing affidavits presented that the plaintiff has established that there is a substantial probability that the plaintiff will prevail on the claim pursuant to Section 3294 of the Civil Code.
In this lawsuit, our Monterey injury attorneys intend to move the court to allow for the addition of punitive damages.
Contact Our Monterey Injury Attorneys Today to Discuss Your Injury Case
If you or a loved one has experienced an injury due to no fault of your own, contact our office today. One of our skilled personal injury attorneys is available now to discuss your case. We regularly handle cases in the Monterey-Salinas area and throughout all of California and Arizona. A consultation is free and if we take your case, it will cost you nothing unless we recover for you.
About the author: The content on this page was written by California civil rights lawyer and Monterey personal injury attorney Charles “Tony” Piccuta. Piccuta graduated with honors from Indiana University-Maurer School of Law in Bloomington, Indiana (Ranked Top 35 US News & World Report 2018). Piccuta took and passed the State bars of Arizona, California, Illinois and Nevada (all on the first try). He actively practices throughout California and Arizona. He is a winning trial attorney that regularly handles serious personal injury cases and civil rights lawsuits. He has obtained six and seven figure verdicts in both state and federal court. He has been recognized by Super Lawyers for six years straight. He is AV Rated by Martindale Hubble. He is a member of the Consumer Attorneys of California, American Association for Justice, National Police Accountability Project, Arizona Association of Justice, Maricopa County Bar Association and Scottsdale Bar Association, among other organizations.
Disclaimer: The information on this web site is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Reading and relying upon the content on this page does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, you should contact our law firm for a free consultation and to discuss your specific case and issues.