Defense verdict in dental malpractice action.
We successfully obtained a defense verdict on behalf of a dentist in a dental malpractice action in Luzerne County. The plaintiff asserted causes of action for negligence and lack of informed consent. Regarding negligence, the plaintiff alleged the dentist used excessive force in extracting a lower third molar, thereby causing a fracture of the mandible and alleged permanent paresthesia. In response, the defense admitted that the mandible was fractured during the extraction, but offered expert testimony that the fracture was an extremely rare complication and was not caused by negligence. The defense argued there was no evidence of the use of excessive force, such as TMJ disorders or dislocation, lacerations or broken adjacent teeth. As for informed consent, the plaintiff argued the dentist did not obtain informed consent because he did not discuss the risk of fracture. The dentist testified that he discussed the possibility of permanent numbness as a risk, but he admitted that fracture was a risk of the extraction and that he did not discuss this risk because the chances of it occurring were astronomically low. The plaintiff’s and the defendant’s experts both agreed that the chances of a fracture occurring were less than 0.0009%. The jury returned a defense verdict on all causes of action in less than one hour.