NJ man awarded $2M for jaw tumor undetected by dentist

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A jury in New Jersey has awarded $2.1 million to a man whose face was disfigured after his longtime dentist failed to promptly detect a cancerous tumor in his jaw, according to a news report in the New Jersey Law Journal.

Anthony Leone sued Lawrence Bauman, DDS, claiming that he had to undergo extensive surgery to remove a tumor. Leone claimed that he was disfigured as a result of the procedure and blamed Dr. Bauman for not diagnosing his oral squamous cell carcinoma during a routine dental visit in May 2014.

A Union County Superior Court jury awarded Leone $2.1 million on September 18. However, the amount Leone will receive was reduced to approximately $1.5 million because he had a preexisting cancerous condition, which must be considered in medical malpractice cases.

During the three-week trial, Leone presented testimony from the head and neck surgeon who removed his tumor, as well as a dentist and oral pathologist who told the court the tumor was diagnosable at the time of his dental visit with Dr. Bauman and testified that Leone would not have had to undergo surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation if the lesion had been detected sooner.

Half of Leone's face had to be removed to identify and remove the cancerous tumor. The surgeon then had to use bone and soft tissue from Leone's lower leg to reconstruct his jaw.

Leone's attorney, who called his client's injuries "substantial and life-threatening," believes this was the largest dental malpractice verdict in the county.

The cancer and surgery have permanently altered Leone's life, according to his attorney. In addition to his disfigurement, 56-year-old has trouble eating, drinking, and swallowing.

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