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Man Suffered ‘Massive Hemorrhage’ After Procedure – $2,750,000 Verdict

June 7, 2022

The 32-year-old plaintiff was referred to the defendant oral surgeon for examination and removal of his lower left wisdom tooth. During his first visit, a panoramic X-ray of the plaintiff’s mouth was taken. The defendant reviewed the film study and discovered a “radiolucency,” or dark spot, near the affected tooth in the lower jaw. The defendant recommended that the plaintiff undergo a biopsy to determine whether the lesion was cancerous and also ordered a CT scan without contrast. The CT scan was performed a couple months after the initial visit. The radiologist reported that the CT film study was “sub-optimal due to lack of iv contrast” and recommended an MRI with iv contrast. However, the defendant claimed that the MRI would be of no benefit and scheduled the plaintiff for removal of the lower wisdom tooth and an incisional biopsy — taking a sample of the lesion to send for lab testing — without additional diagnostics.

On April 20, 2018, five days after the wisdom tooth was extracted, the plaintiff presented to the defendant’s office for an “incision” and biopsy, signing a consent form to that effect.  However, after the plaintiff had been sedated, the defendant changed the procedure (and documentation) from an “incision” and biopsy to an “excision” and biopsy, essentially converting the procedure from taking a piece of the mass to attempting to remove the mass entirely. While trying to remove what the defendant believed to be a “cystic mass,” he encountered an arteriovenous malformation or AVM, also known as a “vascular malformation.” As he drilled into the AVM, the defendant injured the carotid and lingual arteries, causing a massive hemorrhage in the plaintiff’s mouth.

Paramedics were called to the office, and the plaintiff was transported to a nearby hospital. When the ER doctors were unable to stop the bleeding, the plaintiff was intubated and airlifted to a level one trauma center where he underwent an emergency embolization surgery to stop the bleeding and save his life.

Plaintiff’s counsel argued the defendant breached oral surgery standards of care in the multiple ways, including failure to obtain proper permission for the surgery; failure to obtain the proper diagnostic tests, i.e., MRI or angiogram; failure to “needle aspirate” the mass or lesion prior to attempting to remove all or part of it; and negligently entering the AVM with a drill.

Defense counsel claimed the oral surgeon did not breach the standards of care. He claimed that an MRI with contrast was not warranted nor the delineation of the mass from a vascular lesion. He further claimed that an AVM of the ramus was so rare (comparing it to a “unicorn”) that it should not be considered as part of a differential diagnosis.

The jury delivered their verdict in one hour and 15 minutes and never requested a copy of the trial exhibits. Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury for $2.63 million, and the jury awarded more than was asked — $2.75 million. The verdict amount is the largest in Macomb County thus far in 2022.

Plaintiff’s law firm provided case information.

Type of action: Dental malpractice

Injuries alleged: Injured carotid and lingual arteries, causing massive hemorrhage

Name of case: Webster v. Osguthorpe

Court/Case no./Date: Macomb County Circuit Court; 4/14/2022

Tried before: Jury

Demand: $2,630,000

Highest offer: $0

Verdict amount: $2,750,000

Attorneys for plaintiff: Vince Colella and Melanie Duda, Southfield

This article first appeared in Michigan Lawyers Weekly on May 16, 2022

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The attorneys of Moss & Colella have carefully chosen their career paths to fight for those that have suffered from injury and wrongful death. We believe every citizen should have the right to hire the best lawyer who will actively advocate for their case.

David Moss and Vince Colella have over 60 collective years of personal injury trial experience that provides you a level of legal services and success unmatched by other firms. By working together, we have the ability to find creative, effective, and efficient solutions to even the most complex cases. No matter what situation you face, we will help you get through it.

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