Dental Malpractice: Wisdom Teeth Removal Leads to Death and Verdict in Excess of $10million – NJ

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Francis Keller, 21, presented to Dr. John S. Madras complaining of pain in his gums. Mr. Keller was told he needed a routine cleaning and that his wisdom teeth would need to be removed.

Mr. Keller returned a few days later for his cleaning, but, having informed Dr. Madras of his angioedema condition (a genetic immunity disorder with severe risk for swelling from incurring trauma to the hands or face), the cleaning was deferred. The dental hygienist contacted Dr. Richard Goldstein and was informed that Mr. Keller could not undergo any dental procedure until medically cleared.

Dr. Madras referred Mr. Keller to Dr. George Flugrad for wisdom teeth removal, and the procedure was performed on August 4, 2005. The following day, Mr. Keller awoke with difficulty breathing. Within the next fifteen minutes, his throat swelled causing suffocation.

Doctors Madras, Goldstein and Flugrad were all named as defendants in the case. During the trial, there was apparently great debate over whether Dr. Flugrad had been informed of Mr. Keller’s condition, and whether the patient had actually been cleared for surgery. The following is from the report of the case provided by Verdict Search.

Counsel for Flugrad and Madaras both argued that Keller was comparatively negligent, as he had been well advised of the risks of surgery. Counsel for Flugrad also contended that Keller claimed he had been cleared for surgery.

Counsel for Flugrad also claimed that Madaras telephoned him during the evening of Aug. 4 and they discussed Keller, but Madaras never mentioned that Keller’s physician had not given him medical clearance for dental surgery. Counsel also argued that Keller claimed he had been cleared for surgery.

Madaras admitted to speaking to Flugrad on the telephone on Aug. 4, but claimed there was no discussion about Keller, rather that the call was simply to wish Flugrad well on a two-week vacation he was commencing on Aug. 5.

The jury appears to have resolved the conflict in the patient’s favor – Dr. Goldstein settled with the family for a sum of $250,000; a New Jersey jury awarded Mr. Keller’s family a verdict of $10,200,00.00.

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