What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? California
In April, 2003, I had a dentist do an inlay and a crown. He used the CEREC device and I went with him because he said it was better than a traditional crown. In August 2004, the inlay fell out. In May 2006, a crown he "adjusted" broke, and, in October, 2008, the crown broke. Since regular crowns last around 20 years, the restoration he did clearly was not as strong as a traditional crown.
I am severely dental-phobic as my mother never allowed me to have Novocaine when I was growing up and I had many teeth drilled without it. I HATE the dentist. I have told this to every dentist that I have seen.
During our appointment, several things happened which made me recognize that he was not a good dentist. He put me into a complete stupor with pills and gas. Then he woke me up to tell me about some work that needed to be done that he couldn't see earlier and did I want him to do it. I asked how much and he said $1200. I said no. He then had one of his people go out and tell my husband that I was really out of it and needed this work done and my husband said no is no. Then I fell back into the gas and drug induced stupor. Suddenly I am jarred awake and this man is drilling a perfectly good crown using almost all his body weight to take the porcelain off of the crown directly below his work. It scared the life out of me. He said he was adjusting my bite. I told him to stop. The crowning touch was on the way out, his wife presents me with a bill that was much higher than the original estimate. In spite of being totally out of it, I point it out to her and she apologizes and says she put the wrong code in and gives me a new bill.
When the inlay fell out, I saw another dentist who said it could not be repaired and I needed a crown. When the crown he destroyed while "adjusting" my bite broke and required almost $3000 worth of crown and root canal therapy, I asked him to pay for it. He wanted me to come in and see him and that was out of the question. I tried to contact the local dental organization but they are his friends and they were completely unresponsive. I gave up and put up a website telling my story. Kind of obnoxious, I know.
Now Dr. X has served me with papers alleging defamation/etc in small claims court. Since I have to be in court with him anyway, I figure I should counter sue.
I was thinking of suing for malpractice, negligence and breach of contract. I was going to ask him for the money I originally paid him (~$3000 for the work that broke), the cost to replace the crown he destroyed (~$3000) and maximal punitive damages for a total of the small claims court limit of $7500. Do I have a case? Can anyone think of anything to add to that?
I was also going to report him to the state dental board.
I really don't want to ruin this man's career. He is an idiot but if I start this, he'll have to tell his insurance company, he'll be investigated and basically have a very unhappy year. Should I be concerned about this? I can't leave myself undefended. What would you do?
I would appreciate any help and advice. Thanks!