The alleged improper surgical technique of the defendant dentist was at the center of a recent $875,000 dental malpractice settlement in Atlanta. The plaintiff, a woman in her late 20’s, went to the dentist for the removal of her lower left wisdom tooth. During the extraction, the defendant dentist severed the plaintiff’s lingual nerve. The plaintiff was then referred to an oral surgeon. After numerous surgical attempts to repair the nerve, it was determined by the oral surgeon’s office that the nerve was not repairable and the nerve injury was therefore permanent.
The plaintiff argued at trial 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.
During the re-trial of this case, the plaintiffs were able to locate and bring to trial, much to the surprise of the defendants, the dental school professor referenced by the defendant dentist as having taught him his technique (and whom the defendant dentist had claimed was deceased). This witness for the plaintiffs testified that neither he nor any other instructor at the college would have taught such a surgical technique.
This case was previously tried to a defense verdict. In other words, the jury had previously found for the defendant dentist and awarded nothing to the plaintiff to compensate her for her injured lingual nerve that was suffered in the dental chair. However, that verdict was overturned on appeal and the case was sent back to the trial court to be re-tried. The case was settled after the jury had indicated that they had come to a decision on liability but needed more time to deliberate on damages.
The lingual nerve is usually on the other side of the lingual plate from the wisdom tooth that is being extracted. It would be highly unusual for the lingual nerve to be in harm’s way when extracting a wisdom tooth and this is something that the subsequent treating microneurosurgeon would be able to determine (i.e., does the path or course of the lingual nerve in this patient take an anomalous course) when he is accessing the lingual nerve to conduct a subsequent repair attempt of the damaged lingual nerve.
Attorney Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, automobile accident cases, personal injury cases, dental malpractice and medical malpractice lawsuits for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 20 years in and around Atlanta, Georgia and its surrounding areas, including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured and would like quality legal representation, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.