Dental chain Comfort Dental has notified the University of Colorado Denver that it intends to sue four dental school professors for allegedly making defamatory remarks about the chain's quality of care and business practices.
The four targeted professors are Melvin Ball, DDS; Thomas Borris, DDS; Sally Preston, DMD; and James Woolum, DDS.
According to the complaint, Dr. Ball told a colleague that the company "only cares about its 'bottom line' " and it "does not provide 'consistent, quality dental care.' " The complaint also states that he compared the Comfort Dental CEO to a German dictator.
Dr. Borris allegedly referenced Comfort Dental during his class lecture as an "example of a dentistry practice that performs poor dental work and is only focused on the 'bottom line,' " according to a separate complaint.
"The difference between Dr. Smith at Comfort Dental and yourself in your own private office is the fact that you are going to look at your entire patient even on a limited examination, because that makes you a good doctor, and him out for money," he said, according to the complaint.
In addition, Dr. Borris allegedly provided a hypothetical situation during a lecture regarding a patient who came to the dental school's emergency clinic. The complaint states that he referenced Comfort Dental as an example of a dentistry practice that provided "poor professional services that caused the hypothetical patient to seek care from the emergency clinic."
According to a third complaint, Dr. Preston allegedly told a student that "it was 'typical' of Comfort Dental dentists to do shoddy work and leave it for another dentist to correct the situation."
Dr. Preston was discussing with a dental student a patient who had received a dental crown from Comfort Dental, the complaint states. The patient told the student that she had been in pain after the crown, so she went back to the Comfort Dental dentist, who gave her an antibiotic. When the pain persisted, the patient came to the dental school's emergency clinic.
When the dental student described the patient's history to Dr. Preston, she told the "student that this treatment was 'typical Comfort Dental, just give them an injection and send them to us,' " according to the complaint.
Finally, in a fourth complaint, Dr. Woolum allegedly advised a student not to work for Comfort Dental, and in conversation with a colleague, he implied that the chain provides inadequate care because it has a "business model to stick to."
University of Colorado Denver spokesperson Dan Meyers said university officials have received the notice of intent to sue, but the university does not comment on pending legal matters. The dental school is not named as a defendant.
If the university does not respond within 90 days, a lawsuit will be filed, Andrew Laing, of public relations firm Agency 33, told DrBicuspid.com.
Comfort Dental is seeking $2.45 million in damages from the professors for what the company claims were slanderous comments, Dean Nakayama, executive director at law firm Moye White, told DrBicuspid.com.
Comfort Dental claims to be the largest dental franchise in the U.S. and stated that all offices are independently owned and operated.
The chain is based in Lakewood, CO, and said it intends to file the lawsuit in Jefferson County District Court.