Whenever a person dies or is killed as a result of a negligent act or misconduct by another individual, the victim’s surviving members of the family are entitled to sue for what is called “wrong death” damages. Typically filed alongside criminal cases that involve a murder, whoever is found liable for the wrongful death is responsible to compensate with damages that fall under the category, regardless of whether or not the person is convicted of the crime associated with the victim’s death.
Nonetheless, a person can only file for a claim of wrongful death if he or she is a personal representative of the decedent’s estate. Every state has their own version of a civil wrongful death statute or set of statutes that establish the steps required in order for one to file a valid wrongful death claim. As a result, any actions for personal injury, conscious pain and suffering, or expenses that occurred prior the victim’s death would have to be brought into court by a personal representative.
In the case of Christopher Power, the 17 year old boy had stopped breathing during a dental procedure at his local dentist’s office in Kissimmee. After thorough investigation, it appeared that Power had been put under by extreme levels of sedation. Mark Glassman, the attorney representing Christopher Power, prepared a statement, commenting on the extreme dangers of sedation dentistry.
Power had made an appointment with the dental office to remove eight teeth in order to fit his braces. Power’s mother was told by the office staff that the office had an oral surgeon available who could perform the teeth extraction while Power was sedated. However, the person who performed the surgery, Dr. Baxter, was actually not and still is not a certified oral surgeon, a detail Mark Glassman emphasizes. He states, “There is a big difference between a dentist and an oral surgeon. When you are doing it just with the dentist and an assistant in the room without anyone who is trained in anesthesia, truly trained in anesthesia by schooling, it can become dangerous – and that’s what we have here.”
Christopher Power never woke up from his sedated state. The lawsuit stated that both “the staff and paramedics did what they could to try to revive [him], but that he was declared brain dead at the hospital. Power passed away two days after that, where his parents made the difficult choice to take him off life support.
An initial response included the suspension and revoking of Dr. Baxter’s dentist practicing license by the Florida Board of Dentistry.