Final Verdict: Infection Not Malpractice
Personal injury attorneys and medical malpractice lawyers are unfortunately well-known for advertisements and promotional materials that seem to promise huge settlements or awards no matter what the situation might be. In reality, the most experienced personal injury attorney knows that nothing about a case is certain. Even cases which seem to be clear-cut examples of negligence can turn out to be valueless if a jury isn’t convinced. Additionally, new information can emerge at trial which makes the plaintiff’s argument less viable. Attorneys that claim to know the value of a case or promise a particular outcome before they’ve even started are often misleading their clients.
Agatha Cole, a 31-year-old registered nurse from Montgomery County, Maryland, felt she had a strong dental malpractice case against her former dentist, Peajmun Razmjou. Razmjou had performed three molar extractions for Agatha over a period of time in early 2015. Unfortunately, the third extraction became more complicated. Agatha felt increasing pain in her jaw and ultimately checked herself into the hospital. The hospital determined that the extraction site had become infected, leading to a submandibular abscess.
When the soft tissue underneath the lower jaw becomes infected, it can lead to serious and even fatal complications. Treatment is immediately necessary, and involves surgically draining the diseased tissue, careful observation, and IV antibiotics. In some cases, an untreated or improperly-treated submandibular abscess can cause swelling that blocks the patient’s airway, leading to breathing difficulties.
Agatha’s abscess put her in the hospital for a week. Her stay generated massive medical bills and required her to have surgical drainage of the infection. The incident resulted in the formation of disfiguring scar tissue around her face and inside her jaw, and she experienced tremendous pain and suffering during that period and after. Cohen & Cohen P.C.
To Agatha, it seemed clear that she had a case for medical malpractice. The abscess had arisen from the extraction performed by Razmjou, and her damages were significant. Together with a dental malpractice attorney, she sued Razmjou in Montgomery County Circuit Court for dental malpractice, failure to treat, failure to prescribe medication, and her resulting infection and scarring. The trial took two days
To the jury, there was no question that Agatha’s infection and injuries were serious. Rather, they focused on whether Razmjou had breached any standard of care in performing the extraction. During the trial, Razmjou’s attorneys brought experts who argued that infections of extraction sites are a well-known risk of any extraction, and that a dentist can only take so many steps to prevent it. Agatha’s attorneys claimed Razmjou should have ordered preventative antibiotics to stop the infection before it started, but that didn’t seem convincing to the jury.
Despite the serious extent of Agatha’s injuries, she was ultimately unable to prove to the jury that Razmjou’s actions had violated standards or exposed her to a greater-than-normal risk. No part of his procedure fell short of ordinary standards of care in the field of dentistry. After fifteen hours of deliberation, the jury finally returned a verdict of no malpractice in the lawsuit.