Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matt Arnold answers the question: “What can you sue for in a personal injury case?”
If you’ve ever had a stress nightmare about losing all your teeth, this one will make you cringe; an Indiana man made headlines this month after coming forth about a March dental appointment to remove four wisdom teeth that left him covered in blood, in a medically-induced coma and missing all his teeth.
When Donny Grigsby went to Columbus’ White River Dental for the normally routine procedure, he was under the knife for five and a half hours. When his wife, Amanda, went to check on him she says she found him covered in blood, droopy-eyed and unresponsive. The doctor told her that they had found an abscessed tooth and removed all of his teeth because they were afraid the infection would spread.
Amanda went over the dentist’s head and called an ambulance. She says he coded twice on the way to the hospital.
Donny remembers very little from the experience, other than waking up without his clothes and facing the trauma of losing all his teeth unexpectedly.
After a medically-induced coma, Donny is still suffering from blood clots triggered by the surgery. He and his wife said that they have retained an attorney and plan on filing a malpractice suit against the dental facility.
The dentist has since responded to the allegations, however, and tells a somewhat different tale that, if corroborated, could affect the success of the Grigsbys’ lawsuit. The dentist, Dr. Aaron Strickland, claims that Donny’s x-rays in his initial appointment showed that 27 of his 28 teeth were decayed beyond repair and that there was infection throughout his mouth. Strickland said he presented the Grigsbys’ with two treatment options: a series of root canals followed by selective extractions and crowns or bridges to salvage the teeth that could be saved, or a full mouth extraction followed by a denture fitting. Strickland claims Donny’s wife, who already had dentures herself, encouraged Donny to have the full extraction.
Strickland presented news outlets covering the story with what he claims is a consent form for “full mouth teeth extraction” that his patient signed before the procedure began. He is calling the Grigsby’s lawsuit “extraction extortion.”
It will be interesting to see which parties’ claims hold up in court. If the consent form is actually valid, the Grigsbys will not have much of a claim. However, this case is one of a disturbing continuing trend of similar stories of chop-shop dentistry.
Elizabeth Smith, a South Carolina woman, won $2 million in damages in 2009 against a dental clinic that pulled 16 of her teeth and then falsified her dental records to cover up the mistake.
In another example, a Florida dentist is being sued by nearly 50 parents for allegedly performing unnecessary surgery on their children, pulling out teeth for no reason and in some cases hitting and choking them. One of the dentist’s former patient’s, a six-year-old girl, took the gauze out of her mouth in the parking lot to discover to her and her mother’s horror that the dentist had pulled seven of her teeth instead of one.
In covering the Florida story, CNN pointed out that Medicaid pays dental benefits to providers on a per tooth basis. The Florida dentist had collected nearly $4 million in such reimbursements over the past five years alone. In 1995, he was sued for malpractice for allegedly putting 16 crowns (16!) in a three-year-old’s mouth.
The Florida Attorney General’s office reportedly launched a criminal investigation into the Medicaid fraud. Time will tell whether anything similar results from Donny Grigsby’s case.
If you or someone close to you has been injured, contact an experienced personal injury attorney today who can help you receive the compensation to which you may be entitled. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC for a free consultation, call at 704-370-2828 or click here for additional resources.
About the Author
Mr. Arnold was raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.
A board-certified specialist in the practice of Family Law, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state courts in North Carolina, in the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and in the Fourth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.
In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.
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