Oral surgeon to pay $625K for slicing kid's lingual nerve

2019 11 27 18 17 3725 Gavel2 400

An oral surgeon in Virginia and her employer must pay $625,000 to a 12-year-old girl following third-molar surgery in which her lingual nerve was severed and that left her with lifelong issues, including the inability to taste.

Corey Burgoyne, DMD, and Blue Ridge Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Fishersville and Lexington, VA, must pay the damages to the girl and her family, according to a final order issued on November 21 by Judge William Chapman Goodwin of the Augusta Circuit Court for the 25th Judicial Circuit of Virginia.

The judge had denied Dr. Burgoyne's request for a new trial, upholding a jury's verdict, and also ordered her to pay $2,065 in taxable costs, the order stated.

"The child's family brought this action not only to get justice for their daughter, but importantly to protect their community and individuals in other communities, so that no other child and family will have to experience the life-changing effects of poor dental care," said Michele Bartoli Cain, the attorney who represented the girl and her family.

In March 2019, following a five-day trial, a unanimous jury found Dr. Burgoyne was liable for breaching the standard of care and negligently injuring the child.

Jurors heard testimony about Dr. Burgoyne severing the 12-year-old girl's lingual nerve in half with a dental bur while extracting her third-molar buds. After the nerve was cut, the girl lost sensory function, including her ability to taste.

The girl had to receive nerve reattachment surgery to repair the damage, Bartoli Cain said. Though the surgery improved her neuropathic pain significantly, the girl still experiences intermittent pain, and her tongue and adjacent structures remain numb, she noted.

"This injury is permanent and will affect this young person for the rest of her entire life," Bartoli Cain said.

The law firm representing the patient, Bartoli Cain Wason, attempted to reach a settlement with Dr. Burgoyne, but the defense had no interest in resolving the case out of court, according to Bartoli Cain.

"We were very pleased for the family when the jury returned a sizeable verdict, which more than justified the expenditure of those [attorney] costs," the law firm wrote in a statement after the trial in March.

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