Elizabeth Smith, 25, broke her front tooth while playing with a child. She went to a dental clinic, where a dentist told her she would need three upper teeth pulled and placement of a partial denture. Smith agreed to the treatment.
Robert Scott, a different dentist at the clinic, then extracted all 16 of Smith’s upper teeth. As a result of the mistake, she requires a full upper denture, which she has been unable to obtain to her satisfaction.
Smith sued Scott and the clinic, alleging dental malpractice and failure to obtain informed consent. She also charged that the defendants attempted to fabricate her medical record after the incident to justify the wrongful extractions.
The court directed a verdict for the plaintiff on liability. The jury awarded $500,000 in compensatory damages, finding Scott 40 percent liable and the clinic 60 percent responsible. The jury also awarded $1.5 million in punitive damages, finding Scott 30 percent liable and the clinic 70 percent responsible.
This case was reported in South Carolina as Smith v. Scott.