Dentsply sues law firm over breach-of-contract case

Dentsply International is suing the attorney and legal firm that represented it in a 2008 breach-of-contract lawsuit that wound up costing the dental products firm more than $15 million.

In a lawsuit filed February 2 in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico against law firm Lewis & Roca and attorney Thomas Gulley, Dentsply is seeking more than $15 million in compensatory damages for the defendants' alleged malpractice.

Guidance Endodontics sued Dentsply for breach of contract in 2008 over a supply deal for dental obturators, endodontic files, and ovens. The case went to trial in the fall of 2009. The jury ultimately returned a verdict against Dentsply, awarding more than $4 million for the breach of contract, punitive damages of $40 million, and legal fees of more than $3.5 million, according to court documents. The judge in the case later reduced the punitive damages to $4 million.

The complaint filed against Lewis & Roca and Gulley alleges that they committed several breaches of duty, including the following:

  • Failing to develop a theory of the case prior to trial
  • Failing to conduct adequate and appropriate discovery
  • Failing to retain appropriate experts or elicit necessary expert testimony
  • Failing to object to erroneous jury instructions and invited error
  • Failing to make appropriate motions
  • Failing to preserve key issues for appeal

"As a direct and proximate result of defendants' professional negligence, breach of contract, and breaches of the applicable standard of care and fiduciary duties, Guidance obtained a verdict against clients in excess of $44 million dollars, and clients sustained damages in excess of $15 million dollars," the lawsuit states.

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