A Connecticut dental malpractice jury has awarded $4.5 million to a 42-year-old woman who had a root canal procedure performed on her by the defendant dentist on March 15, 2011 that left her with pain at all times: pain when she is eating, pain while she is sleeping, and pain when she is doing nothing. She has sought help from other dentists for her unrelenting pain but no one has been able to help her.
The plaintiff alleged in her dental malpractice lawsuit that her dentist had cut too far down during the root canal procedure, allowing the sealer used during the procedure to flow into the woman’s jaw and impair the mandibular nerve. The nerve injury is permanent and her chronic pain is so severe that it affects her sleep and she is always fatigued (the powerful medications that she uses in an effort to control her pain also contribute to her fatigue). Her sleep disturbances have caused her husband to sleep in another room so that he can sleep through the night. The woman also alleged that her chronic pain condition has affected her relationship with her children.
Her chronic pain has also impacted her career as a corporate executive, causing her to have to work from home because of chronic pain and her need to take a nap during the day.
The plaintiff’s experts have identified two treatment options for the plaintiff: try to remove the sealer from the jaw that risks even worse permanent pain, which is not recommended due to the extent of the sealer that would have to be removed, or a procedure to sever the mandibular nerve that may result in the permanent loss of sensation in her tongue, lips, and her face (severing the nerve may not even result in alleviating her chronic pain).
The defense argued what it called the “nocebo effect”: the woman’s pain exists, but it derives from her mind and not from the actual nerve damage.
The Connecticut dental malpractice jury evidently did not buy the defense: after a three-week trial, the jury awarded the plaintiff $4.5 million in compensatory damages, of which $4,335,000 was for noneconomic damages.
The plaintiff’s last settlement demand was $550,000, and the last settlement offer was $200,000. The plaintiff had made an offer of compromise in the amount of $750,000 in 2013, which may result in the total verdict increasing to more than $5.3 million due to interest being added to the verdict under Connecticut law. Nonetheless, the plaintiff stated after she was awarded the dental malpractice verdict that she would gladly exchange the entire amount for being pain-free.
If you may be the victim of dental malpractice in Connecticut or in another state in the United States, you should promptly consult with a local dental malpractice attorney in Connecticut or in your state who may investigate your dental malpractice claim for you and represent you in a dental malpractice lawsuit, if appropriate.
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