The plaintiff, who was a twenty-nine year old kitchen manager for a local restaurant, sustained multiple facial fractures, hand, chest injuries, and lacerations when he was thrown from a motorcycle in an accident. He was taken to a local hospital where he was admitted to defendant’s Ear, Nose and Throat service. After emergency surgery to manage airway and stabilize the patient, the defendant took him to the O.R. one week later and repaired the patient’s maxillary Le Forte II fracture, bilateral mandibular condyle fracture and mandibular symphysis fracture by doing open reductions with intermaxillary fixation. A month after discharge from the hospital, the defendant un-wired the patient’s jaws and observed that the patient’s bite was off. He referred the plaintiff to oral and maxillofacial surgeons, Dr. Marion Branitz and Dr. Stuart Hirsch. Branitz and Hirsch saw the plaintiff had a malunion of the mandibular fractures and decided that the surgery to repair the mal-union was going to be difficult so they referred the plaintiff to oral and maxillofacial surgeons, Dr. Lanny Garvar and Dr. Stanley Stewart. After extensive planning, the four Broward oral surgeons referred the patient to Dr. Steven Holmes at Jackson Memorial in Miami who did an osteotomy to repair the malunion. Because of the manner in which the defendant had repaired the mandible initially, the angles of the lower jaw “winged-out” laterally so that the plaintiff’s face tended to be square rather than oval as it was prior to the injury. The repair by Holmes did as much as it could but plaintiff still had a square-ish facial appearance. Branitz/Hirsch/Garvar/Stewart would have testified that the defendant, an Ear, Nose & Throat surgeon, didn’t appreciate the importance of re-establishing the patient’s “bite” or occlusion when repairing the mandible which would have been paramount if the patient were being treated by an oral surgeon. Plaintiff had an independent expert who is both a dentist and a physician and who had been trained both as an oral surgeon and as an ENT. The defendant’s position was that the fractures were properly repaired and the result obtained was the best result possible considering the amount of facial trauma the patient suffered in the accident.
The case was settled prior to trial for $155,000. Kenneth P. Liroff, D.D.S., J.D., of THE DENTALAW GROUP, Ft. Lauderdale, FL represented the plaintiff. Charles E. Sinclair, Esq., Miami, FL for the defendant.