Dentist extracts wisdom teeth, patient has ongoing pain from jaw and nerve damage. $500K. Monterey County.
Woman says dentist extracted wisdom teeth, fracturing her jaw and causing nerve damage.
- Case Name: Huda Khalil v. Rafid Khamis, DDS
- Court and Case Number: Monterey County Superior Court / 19CV004700
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, January 20, 2023
- Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, November 20, 2019
- Type of Case: Fraud, Medical Malpractice, Negligence
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Carrie M. Panetta
Plaintiffs: Huda Khalil
Defendants: Rafid Khamis DDS
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $500,000.
- Net Verdict or Award: Judgment was reduced to $250,000 per MICRA. Judgment paid.
Plaintiff only claimed non-economic damages. Plaintiff was awarded $135,000 in past non-economic damages and $365,000 in future non-economic damages.
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 4 1/2 days
- Jury Deliberation Time: 1 1/2 days
- Jury Polls: 10-2 For plaintiff on professional negligence; 10-2 for defendant on the fraud concealment claim; 9-3 for defendant on the fraud intentional misrepresentation claim.
Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Piccuta Law Group, LLP by Charles Tony Piccuta, Monterey.
Attorney for the Defendant:
The Wager-Smith Law Firm by Jim Wager-Smith, Walnut Creek.
Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
Richard Mandel, DDS, oral maxillofacial surgery.
Perry Silva, DDS, M.D., oral maxillofacial surgery. (Treating physician.)
Michael Faktor, DDS, dentistry. (Treating physician.)
Mark A. Crane, DDS, M.D., oral maxillofacial surgery.
David C. Hatcher, DDS, M.R.C.D., oral radiology.
Facts and Background
Facts and Background:
In January 2019, plaintiff first met with defendant at his dental office in Monterey. At that appointment, defendant told plaintiff that both of her bottom wisdom teeth needed to be removed. On March 1, 2019, plaintiff underwent the lower wisdom teeth extraction procedure. Afterward, defendant told plaintiff that the removal of the wisdom teeth was without incident.
Defendant did not take any post-procedure X-rays at that time. Plaintiff had pain, numbness and swelling on the left side of her face that persisted after the procedure. She also had difficulty opening her mouth. She followed up with defendant more than once. On April 5, 2019, plaintiff saw defendant and he took a dental X-ray of the extraction site of the lower left wisdom tooth. Defendant told plaintiff the X-ray did not indicate any problems and looked normal. Plaintiff grew suspicious of what defendant was telling her and sought out a second opinion.
On April 18, 2019, plaintiff met with dentist Dr. Micahel Faktor. Dr. Faktor told her that he suspected the numbness on the left side of her face was due to nerve damage. He took a panoramic X-ray. The panoramic X-ray showed that plaintiff's lower left jaw was fractured and that the majority of her right wisdom tooth had not been extracted. Dr. Faktor then referred her to an oral surgeon, Dr. Perry Silva. Plaintiff met with Dr. Silva. He confirmed her lower left jaw was fractured and that she had nerve damage on the left side of her face. He attributed the fracture and nerve damage to the extraction procedure. He scheduled plaintiff for an open reduction internal fixation surgery to see if her lower left jaw could be realigned. On May 3, 2019, Dr. Silva attempted the surgery. However, the bone had already fused out of alignment and could not be separated. The surgery was unsuccessful and plaintiff's mouth was wired shut for 3-4 weeks,during which she remained on a liquid diet.
Plaintiff contended that she went to defendant's office in January 2019 for a general cleaning and with no complaints of wisdom teeth problems. She believed defendant when he said she needed her wisdom teeth removed. During the extraction procedure, she heard a loud crack when he removed her lower left wisdom tooth. From that point on, she was unable to keep her mouth open. After the procedure, defendant told her that the surgery had gone as expected and without any problems. Defendant did not tell her that he left the majority of her lower right wisdom tooth. Defendant did not tell her about any issue with removing her lower left wisdom tooth.
In the weeks that followed, plaintiff had pain, swelling and numbness on the left side of her face. She also had problems opening her mouth. She returned to defendant's office 3-4 times. Each time he told her that everything was fine and that her recovery was typical. At one point, she researched the numbness in her face and learned she likely had nerve damage. She addressed this with defendant. Defendant told her there was no way he damaged her nerve and that it may take her six months for the numbness to go away. She believed that this was not a normal recovery period.
At no time did defendant tell her she had nerve damage. The first time plaintiff learned that she had a lower left broken jaw, and that her right wisdom tooth was mostly left in her mouth, was after she sought a second opinion. Plaintiff claimed an altered bite, permanent numbness in her lower left lip and chin, malunion of her left jaw bone resulting in asymmetry in her face, pain and aches in her jaw when attempting to eat certain foods, inability to fully open her mouth and emotional distress as a result.
Defendant contended that plaintiff presented to his office specifically complaining of pain and problems with her wisdom teeth. As a result, the extraction procedure was scheduled. Defendant removed the lower left wisdom tooth without any problems. Defendant elected to leave the majority of the lower right wisdom tooth in place because he had concerns that removing it could lead to nerve damage. After the procedure, defendant told plaintiff that he had left part of the lower right wisdom tooth behind. He also gave plaintiff his personal cell phone number and told her to call with any problems. Plaintiff did not call his cell phone. Plaintiff only called his office one time after the procedure, complaining of pain and swelling.
Plaintiff was not compliant with the post-procedure medications he prescribed to reduce the swelling. At no time did plaintiff complain about numbness to him. Plaintiff then failed to show at a scheduled appointment in the middle of March. Plaintiff finally returned to his office on April 5, 2019 at which time an X-ray was taken of the lower left wisdom tooth extraction site. This X-ray proved that her jaw was not fractured at that time, and that plaintiff's jaw fractured at some point during the 13 days between her last appointment with him on April 5, 2019 and the panoramic X-ray taken on April 18, 2019.
The fracture and nerve damage was not caused by defendant and not his fault. Defendant did not misrepresent or conceal anything from plaintiff. Plaintiff was not forthright regarding her complaints about her continued issues and symptoms. Plaintiff's continued complaints and symptoms were not consistent with the medical science.
Injuries and Other Damages
Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Altered bite/malocclusion, inferior alveolar nerve damage resulting in permanent numbness and altered sensation in her lower left lip and chin, malunion of her left jaw bone resulting in asymmetry in her face, pain and aches in her jaw when attempting to eat certain foods, inability to fully open her mouth and emotional distress as a result.
Plaintiff served a 998 for $250,000 on June 16, 2021 and again for the same amount on December 29, 2022. Plaintiff is seeking over $40,000 in pre-judgment interest and expert fees in excess of $16,000. Trial commenced on Monday January 9, 2023. Defendant waited until the afternoon of Friday January 6, 2023 to make a settlement offer of $75,000. The highest previous offer made by defendant prior to that was $9,999. The insurance carrier was Dentist's Advantage.