A jury in Georgia has awarded a woman $2.8 million compensation for dental negligence after a hearing at the DeKalb County State Court.
In February 2008, Haley Buice attended the Coast Dental of Georgia practice in Acworth, DeKalb County and was evaluated by James Cauley DMD. Cauley recommended the placement of multiple crowns and veneer implants – a course of treatment that would cost in excess of $20,000.
Cauley agreed to discount the cost of the treatment in return for being paid in cash but, when Caulet resigned from Coast Dental the following year, the dental practice refused to continue Haley´s treatment as there was no record of her cash payments.
Over the course of the next few months, the crowns inserted by Cauley began to fall out of Haley´s mouth. An evaluation by another dentist revealed that Cauley had failed to treat many of Haley´s teeth that were in poor condition and had instead placed crowns on perfectly healthy teeth.
Haley claimed compensation for dental negligence against Cauley and Coast Dental of Georgia – alleging that Cauley had failed to meet the required standard of dental care and that the dental practice was vicariously liable as his employer.
According to Haley´s lawsuit, Cauley had failed to treat teeth that were in obvious need of repair and had improperly fitted more than a dozen crowns – many unnecessarily. Cauley settled the claim against him for an undisclosed amount of compensation for dental negligence, but Coast Dental argued that Haley´s condition was caused by a pre-existing condition and was not the result of dental malpractice.
The dental negligence compensation claim proceeded to the DeKalb County State Court – where it was heard by a twelve-member jury before Judge Stacey Hydrick. At the hearing, Haley claimed that she was embarrassed by the condition of her teeth and had suffered depression as a result.
The jury was told that Haley sought compensation for her emotional trauma, the unnecessary pain she had suffered, and the cost of repairing the damage to her teeth. At the end of the four-day hearing, the jury deliberated for just forty minutes before finding unanimously in Haley´s favor and awarding her $2.8 million compensation for dental negligence.