October 2014 

Salt Lake City: Trial Victory for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon Client

Attorneys Mike Tarpey and Jason Watson successfully secured a bench trial victory on behalf of their client, an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon in Salt Lake County.

The plaintiff was referred to our client for extraction of her third molars. Prior to the surgery, the plaintiff had discussed in detail with our client the recognized risks and complications of the surgery including numbness, tingling and nerve injury that is usually temporary but may be permanent. These risks were also documented on the consent form she reviewed and signed preoperatively.  

Following the surgery, the plaintiff reported numbness on her tongue, lip and chin. Our client advised her that she had probably suffered a nerve injury during the procedure, most likely from injecting the anesthetic and she was referred to a neurologist for further evaluation and treatment. The plaintiff visited three different specialists over the next 6 months but did not follow up with them as recommended.    

Plaintiff claimed our client was negligent by causing the nerve injury and negligent in his follow up by failing to send her for a surgical referral in order to timely treat the undisputed nerve injury within a six-month window necessary for a best outcome. Plaintiffs counsel asked the court to award significant six figure damages for this permanent injury.  
Our team argued that this was a recognized complication occurring in the absence of negligence, the complication was timely recognized and responded to with an appropriate referral to a local neurologist. Any claim of permanency is due in large part to plaintiff's own decision to forego timely treatment recommendations.  
The court issued its decision in favor of our client and against the plaintiff, dismissing the cause of action and awarding costs to the defense.  The court further found that plaintiff's oral surgery expert was discredited on cross-examination as he was repeatedly impeached with material directly off his own website.