Perry Mason moment near end of medical malpractice case

For those of a certain age, Perry Mason was a riveting TV attorney character who brilliantly represented clients at trial, often prevailing as the result of a last-second revelation or confession by a key witness.

An attorney who represented a client in a dental malpractice case said he recently went through a Perry Mason moment when a witness brought in at the very end of the proceedings brought the dentist defendant to the negotiating table.

The attorney’s client claimed that she was caused lifelong pain by the Georgia dentist who botched a wisdom tooth extraction, severing her lingual nerve. The woman was forced to endure "lifelong simultaneous numbness, tingling and excruciating pain in her lower left mouth and face," her lawyer said.

She underwent three oral surgeries to try to fix the problem, but all to no avail.

The dentist, in turn, claimed that he was not the cause of the injury. He further claimed that he had used a proper surgical technique taught to him at the Medical College of Georgia by the head of the oral surgery department. He made the claim in a deposition, in which he speculated that the instructor might not be alive any more, and also apparently repeated it at trial.

As it turned out, the instructor was found, alive and well, by the plaintiff’s attorney and brought in to testify at the last moment. His testimony turned the trial upside down. He said he never taught the surgical procedure to anyone at the school and that because he was head of the department, no one else taught the method either. It wasn’t taught for good reason: the procedure was viewed as an inappropriate invasion of the lingual nerve area.

While those kinds of Perry Mason moments are rarities, the attention to detail, perseverance and knowledge of law that led to the moment are all key factors in effective representation in medical malpractice and dental malpractice cases.

Source: Daily Report, "Dramatic Dental Malpractice Trial Ends With $875K Settlement," Alyson Palmer, Dec. 1, 2014

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