Plaintiff was a 50 year old insurance company claims adjuster who had been under the care of the same general dentist for 16 years. This dentist only treats patients with dental insurance and never charges the patient for any services; all charges are submitted to the patients’ insurance company. When plaintiff saw an EOB (explanation of benefits) reflecting charges for treatment which she didn’t believe was performed, she called the dentist and complained to the receptionist and asked to speak with the dentist. He refused to speak with her and refused to give her an appointment. When she sought a new dentist she learned that the complete upper and lower bridges, recently made by the defendant, were substandard and required replacement. The crowns were too short, the bite was collapsed, the gingivae were congested, there were inadequate embrasures and there were open margins.
The dentist’s defense was that the patient was “non-compliant” and refused to see a periodontist to whom he claimed to have referred her. After finding a new dentist, plaintiff was seen by two periodontists, each of whom found no evidence of intrinsic periodontal disease but did find that the defective bridges were compromising the periodontium and their opinions were that replacement of the bridges would “cure” her periodontal compromise. The bridges were replaced and the periodontal compromise disappeared.
The case was settled prior to trial and after mediation for $65,000. Kenneth P. Liroff, D.D.S., J.D.,