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Largest Dental Malpractice Verdict in Colorado History

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December, 2016

DENVER DISTRICT COURT

The Law Office of Christopher B. Dominick Recently Obtained a $2 Million Verdict in A Dental Malpractice Case, the Largest Such Verdict in Colorado History.

The Law Office of Christopher B. Dominick Recently Obtained a $2 Million Verdict in A Dental Malpractice Case, the Largest Such Verdict in Colorado History.

Our client consulted the defendant, the dentist, in 2013 regarding a loose crown and post in a molar. The dentist removed the crown and post (a post is frequently used to provide structural integrity to a tooth which has been largely affected by decay), treated recurrent decay under the crown, and then replaced the post and crown. Instead of reusing the hole out of which the old post had come, the dentist drilled a new hole, and in so doing drilled through the wall of the tooth (a perforation), and into the bone surrounding the tooth’s roots (the maxilla). The dentist failed to diagnose he had drilled through the wall of the tooth’s canal and proceeded with placing the new post into the hole he had drilled, the tip of which went through the perforation, and into the maxilla.

The dentist took an X-Ray following his placement of the post, and it demonstrated evidence he had drilled through the wall of the root, and that the tip of the post was seated in our client's bone; however, the dentist neither investigated the suspicious evidence of a perforation (took further X-Rays) nor warned our client of the increased danger she may develop an infection.

Over the course of the next several months, our client returned to the dentist on numerous occasions complaining of symptoms consistent with perforation, and an infection. Despite taking additional X-Rays which further demonstrated the probability of a perforation, the dentist failed repeatedly to diagnose the problem he had created. Our client finally sought a second opinion from an endodontist (a dentist who specializes in root canals) who immediately diagnosed that when the dentist had drilled the new hole for the new post, he had drilled through the wall of the root and into our client’s bone. He further diagnosed the tip of a new post placed by the dentist was seated in the bone surrounding our client’s molar. This specialist also explained the urgent nature of the situation as the hole created a direct line of access for infection to travel from the tooth into our client’s bloodstream. The tooth was immediately extracted.

Within several weeks of the extraction, our client’s condition began to deteriorate, and she finally presented at Denver Health Medical Center with symptoms consistent with a dangerous infection of the lining of her heart valve (endocarditis); left untreated endocarditis may result in death. Our client was immediately begun on a powerful antibiotic called Gentamycin. As with many drugs, while extremely effective at treating one thing (in this case infection), Gentamycin has a potential side-effect, namely causing damage to the inner ear.

Unfortunately for our client, that is what happened: the infection was successfully treated, however, she suffered the side-effect of inner ear damage which resulted in permanent vertigo. Our client cannot walk without a cane, cannot drive, cannot read or even watch TV. Our client has been left with a condition that interferes with almost all her activities of daily living.

From the beginning, the dentist denied he had done anything wrong, and denied he caused any damage to our client; in fact, the dentist never made an offer in the case. The dentist asserted all the problems and damages suffered by our client were the result of the negligence of the doctors at Denver Health in failing to recognize the Gentamycin was beginning to cause inner ear damage, and stop its use.

After a trial that lasted seven days, the jury returned a verdict in our client’s favor. The jury not only found the dentist was negligent in his care of our client, but that his negligence was the direct cause of all damages suffered by her. The jury awarded our client $300,000 for pain and suffering, and $1.6 million for future economic damages (money to pay for future care and amenities to improve the quality of life), a total, with interest, of over $2 million.

Christopher Dominick has successfully represented numerous individuals injured due to the negligence of a dentist and would enjoy the opportunity to discuss your case with you. If you or a loved one has been injured/damaged at the hands of a dentist, contact Dominick Law to arrange a free initial consultation.