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Sarah Baker Obtains Defense Verdict in Philadelphia Malpractice Trial
June 10, 2022

Philadelphia partner Sarah Baker obtained a defense verdict for her client, a general dentist, after a 5 day malpractice trial in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. The Plaintiff, a former patient of the Defendant dentist, contended that the dentist had not informed her about the presence of a retained “root tip” in her mandible during treatment in 2011 and 2016. Plaintiff contended that after her final appointment with the dentist in 2016, she developed an infection and abscess surrounding the root tip, which required biopsy and surgery to remove. She complained of persistent pain following the extraction of the root tip, and the development of an uncomfortable keloid scar.

At trial, however, Sarah proved that the dentist had in fact advised her patient of the presence of the root tip, on two occasions, once in 2011 and once in 2016. Plaintiff’s overall recollections of any of the details regarding her treatment were very poor, bringing her reliability as a historian into question. The defense also highlighted to the jury the distinction between the “failure to document” and the “failure to advise” and argued to the jury that no causation could flow from the simple failure to document the conversations. Rather, in order for the dentist’s actions to be causally related to the harm alleged, they would have to find that the conversations had not occurred, regardless of documentation. Sarah also forced the Plaintiff’s expert to concede during cross examination, “just because something is not written down, that doesn’t mean it didn’t occur,” particularly if there are other ways of demonstrating that they took place.

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