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  1. #1
    JanisJoplin is offline Junior Member
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    Dental Drama: Do I have a case? (CEREC)

    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.

    QUESTION #1:
    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.

    QUESTION #2:
    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!
    Last edited by JanisJoplin; 11-13-2008 at 11:49 AM.
  2. #2
    seniorjudge is offline Senior Member
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    Q: I was thinking of suing for malpractice, negligence and breach of contract. Can anyone think of anything to add to that?

    A: Find another dentist who will testify against the bad tooth boy and have the willing dentist sign an agreement to that effect. Then take that agreement to a medical malpractice attorney to see if you have a case.
    There are two rules for success:

    (1) Never tell everything you know.
  3. #3
    barry1817 is offline Senior Member
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    dental

    Quote Originally Posted by JanisJoplin View Post
    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.

    By insurance standards crowns can be replaced at five years. Don't know why insurance does that, but that has become a convenient standard for longevity of a crown, even though most dentists will tell you that crowns should last longer.

    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.

    It is strange that he would wake a patient to ask to do further treatment, of a major cost, that wasn't diagnosed in the beginning. I have often had to tell a patient that decay was more extensive than the x-ray and would be doing a more extensive treatment on the tooth in question.


    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.

    A no should be a no, especially when both you and your husband said so.


    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.

    Putting a wrong code on a statement is something that is not ethical, and I have seen cases where such billing practices are considered to be fraudulent.

    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.

    When a dentist asks a patient to come in to correct a situation and a patient refuses to do so, it isn't looked upon favorably, so you would have to make it crystal clear the reasons that you refused to return to the practice, and chief would be that you had left the practice because of the dental treatment, of how you were treated and the problems that you experienced with potential fraudulent billing practices.(wrong coding)

    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.

    Contacting the dental association is one thing, filing a complaint with them is another.

    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 don't know what you posted, but truth should be the defense against defamation, and he would have to prove the damages to him. So you might want to ask that he produce his financial records for the last 6 months to include number of patients seen, and production for the office. Then you will also want to make sure that you deal with statistics about dental slow downs due to the economic turmoil, and can he be sure that if he had any damages it is because of you or because of the economy. And you will want to make sure that you deal with production figures, and not collection figures as well

    QUESTION #1:
    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.

    Do not wait on a complaint with the dental board, and filing a legal action and dental board action can be done at the same time.

    QUESTION #2:
    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!
    If you have a case for negligence you have a case for negligence, and that is a part of doing business. Seems like you are in the middle of this at this point in time, but you will need supporting documentation from another dentist if you go to small claims.

    It might be a better tactic, if you have a malpractice claim to have your attorney combine both cases, and get it out of small claims court. Once it is out of small claims you may find that he has no interest in pursuing his case and it gets much more difficult and he would have to pay for an attorney to pursue this case.

    If he has to get a lawyer to pursue his case, he would then have to show the damages you caused, and that gets back to opening his books up for scutiny which could be very interesting. What damges did he have and what backs up his monetary damages. If he had no damages, could that considered as malacious prosecution? Just asking.
  4. #4
    lya
    lya is offline Senior Member
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    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.
    abundant self-confidence or delusions of grandeur?

    You have been served with a lawsuit. I bet it came with documents from the dentist's attorneys.

    Go hire an attorney. the sooner, the better.
    Last edited by lya; 11-13-2008 at 02:13 PM.
  5. #5
    tranquility is offline Senior Member
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    Rather than professional negligence which you would need an EXPERT to TESTIFY (they are expensive), countersue for battery for exceeding the scope of the consent.
  6. #6
    LLT
    LLT is offline Junior Member
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    Just FYI according to insurance companies the expected life span of a crown is Five years. You can get reccurant decay around the margins.
  7. #7
    JanisJoplin is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by lya View Post
    abundant self-confidence or delusions of grandeur?

    You have been served with a lawsuit. I bet it came with documents from the dentist's attorneys.

    Go hire an attorney. the sooner, the better.
    Actually - small claims court: One page filing, no additional paperwork, improper service (substituted with no mail follow up). If he had a case that he thought he could get some money out of, he would have had an attorney file it.

    Re: confidence - I think it is more a matter of starting to travel down a path where I sue for medical malpractice, battery, negligence, etc. then file a complaint with the dental board. It will be really messy for him. I don't necessarily need that to happen. I just want restitution.
    Last edited by JanisJoplin; 11-13-2008 at 05:03 PM.
  8. #8
    lya
    lya is offline Senior Member
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    Oops! I posted on the wrong question!

    Anyway, back to your question...

    How about referencing your web-posted tirade against him so we can evaluate how deep you are standing in poop or if you are on dry, clean land.
  9. #9
    JanisJoplin is offline Junior Member
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    The Text!

    This website is dedicated to my experiences with xxx, Cerec restorations and sedation dentistry. xxx is a dentist that practices sedation dentistry in xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. xxx owns a Cerec device. The Cerec is a special machine allows dentists to make dental restorations while the patient waits thus making it possible for permanent crowns and other restorations to be finished in one visit.

    ** picture of damaged tooth **
    This is the damage to my tooth. xxx put a Cerec restoration in the tooth above. Because it didn't fit properly, he drilled down the existing crown below, weakening it. Within a very short amount of time, the crown on the tooth he drilled broke. Additionally, he had used the CEREC machine to make an inlay which promptly fell out and a crown which broke.

    The entire xx episode was your typical story of an unknowing person with a problem who was sold a bill of goods. No problem - one visit, gas, sleeping pills, piece of cake! It is hard to believe that a dentist would give a patient with extreme dental phobia gas and sleeping pills then wake them up and try to upsell them but that is exactly what happened. Something along the lines of "decay we couldn't see before on a tooth that we weren't going to touch" and do I want to fix it for another $1200?! On the way out, the receptionist presents me a bill that was higher than the estimate by several hundred dollars. Fortunately I noticed and she quickly adjusted her "billing error".
    What are Cerec Crowns and why don't they work on molars?

    Cerec is a in house method of dental restoration. It is very attractive because it has some of the natural translucency of light, however it is not as strong as traditional crowns. The issue is that the, although less drilling is necessary, the ceramic used is thinner (saving more of the tooth and creating a thinner restoration). Although I don't have any experience on how that works out on front teeth, all of the Cerec work that I had done by xxx fell out or broke within five years. The latest breakage was a piece of molar that broke right off exposing part of what was left of the tooth under it and causing me anxiety and costing me time and money to go to another dentist for a traditional crown which should last me 20 years.

    A picture of the Cerec dental restoration that broke coming soon.

    More information about CEREC on molars

    Estimate for repair to Tooth #30 from another dentist (not xxx, DDS) (picture follows)
    Get a second opinion and look for local area Dentists
    with the integrity to stand by their work!


    ******
    There is another page discussing in more detail how inappropriate CEREC is for molars. That page was added after the latest episode.
  10. #10
    Nativity is offline Member
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    Holy hell you need help.

    You want him to refund you, but instead you go out and register a domain against him and post up a rant about crap....

    [url=http://www.kurtmitchler.com/]Kurt Mitchler[/url]
  11. #11
    JanisJoplin is offline Junior Member
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    It is all true. There is a bunch of stuff I left out about the lost time from work and the pain and suffering I experienced. I also had made an attempt to work with him. It might be crap to you, but I incurred a great deal of expense and experienced a lot of anxiety over the whole situation.
    Last edited by JanisJoplin; 11-13-2008 at 07:35 PM.
  12. #12
    lya
    lya is offline Senior Member
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    JanisJ,
    I think you made a mistake by creating a website to deter customers away from this dentist. I don't see where you made any really defamatory remarks, though. Your intent was, however, to defame the dentist and to bring harm upon him and his practice.

    You stated that all but one of the Cerec restorations fell out within five years, but you don't say what was done about those events. One can assume the dental work remains without repair or one can assume the dentist corrected the problems to your satisfaction.

    I believe you will have to give the dentist the opportunity to make right the crown that he ruined by attempting to shorten the height of a tooth with a crown. Have you done this?
    (You may have addressed this; but, your post is a bit hard to follow, so please answer, again.)

    I don't think you are going to be able to pad a claim with pain and suffering. I think you may succeed in gaining repair of the crowned tooth and, possibly, compensation for additional time off from work that was necessary in order to gain the repair.

    This is not a high-dollar claim and I doubt many attorneys will be interested in pursuing a medmal claim, especially in light of your attempt to publicly defame the dentist.
  13. #13
    JanisJoplin is offline Junior Member
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    My attempt was to enlighten potential customers as to the type of person they were dealing with. I should have sued him right off the bat but I had hoped that this would be sufficient to get him to deal with me.

    I had all the work repaired by other dentists as there was no possibility that I would allow him to touch me again after his awful work on my teeth. It was really awful. I can't even listen to other people talk about their dental work. I hate it when I have a dental problem. I dread every step of the process. When it is fixed, it needs to stay fixed. This guy promised that his restorations (which cost more than three times what my regular/insurance covered dentist) would be better than regular dental work.

    One of the issues of concern is that any legal action I take will affect him professionally - more than just open the eyes of prospective customers but increase his insurance risk. I think I could file a suit for more money and get a settlement because insurance companies tend to look to settle unless they are sure they will win. What are the consequences of that for him, though?

    I know that there are a lot of hungry attorneys who would be willing to try to get a settlement from the insurance company. It's just the consequences of escalating it seem to be too harsh just so I can get my money back. I wish he would see that and just pay me off and I could revise the website to show he takes care of his patients.

    Part of me wants to post the lawsuit documents and make a new page highlighting how he is dealing with his problem former patient. Part of me is inclined to make a good faith effort to ask him to make restitution in exchange for the website - or a page discussing how he does right by his patients or whatever.
    Last edited by JanisJoplin; 11-13-2008 at 11:28 PM.
  14. #14
    >Charlotte< is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by JanisJoplin View Post
    I wish he would see that and just pay me off and I could revise the website to show he takes care of his patients. Part of me wants to post the lawsuit documents and make a new page highlighting how he is dealing with his problem former patient. Part of me is inclined to make a good faith effort to ask him to make restitution in exchange for the website - or a page discussing how he does right by his patients or whatever.
    Well that's odd. Within a half hour of that last post the web site has been revised to state "Kurt has contacted me in an attempt to resolve our differences. The contents of this site has been temporarily removed as part of my good faith effort towards the same end."
  15. #15
    JanisJoplin is offline Junior Member
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    Yep - he did contact me. Unfortunately it was with an improperly served subpoena so I am giving him the benefit of the doubt and assuming he is trying to resolve our differences and he just can't figure out another way to go about it. I am composing a letter to him suggesting an outcome that may be mutually acceptable.

    If he still wants to litigate, I'll file complaints with every board I can think of and I'll decide if I want to go to small claims court, or to find a malpractice attorney. I'm sure this would be quickly settled between a savvy lawyer and an insurance company. I just prefer to try to work this out before it escalates into other areas of his business.

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