Woman awarded €255,000 against dentist who fitted braces that weren't needed
Published 02/11/2011 | 05:00
A WOMAN who suffered to an almost "unbearable extent" after being fitted with braces by her dentist has been awarded €255,000.
Esther Hammond (61) of Redgap, Rathcoole, Co Dublin, brought proceedings against registered dental surgeon Brendan Bastible who treated her at his surgery between 1991 and 1995.
The High Court heard yesterday that as a consequence of the dentist's negligence, Mrs Hammond's life and lifestyle had been diminished to an extraordinary degree.
Mrs Hammond first attended the dentist at his surgery in Greenhills, Dublin on May 1, 1991 to seek treatment for a loose crown which had been applied to one of her upper front teeth by another dental surgeon.
The defendant confirmed the relevant crown was loose and there were cavities in her teeth which required attention.
He also found she was missing several teeth and was suffering from the gum disease periodontitis.
Mr Justice John Quirke yesterday said that other than the defendant, all the expert witnesses who testified in the proceedings had agreed it was inappropriate to apply braces to Mrs Hammond's upper jaw in November 1991 and to her lower jaw in 1993.
He also said that the wires which fixed Mrs Hammond's braces within the upper jaw and the teeth broke continually and her mouth was lacerated regularly, and that her life and lifestyle had been very seriously diminished.
Judge Quirke also said he was satisfied on the evidence of an expert witness that as a result of the dentist's negligence Mrs Hammond's treatment and recovery from dental difficulties had probably been delayed by about 15 to 20 years.
He said her life and lifestyle had been grossly and continuously diminished during the past 20 years and her injuries had a profound impact on her family, marital relations and relationships at a very important time in her life.
Brendan Bastible had no qualification to enable him to properly embark on orthodontic procedures of the kind he attempted on Mrs Hammond -- and he still has no such qualification, the court heard.
The judge said that the application of braces on Mrs Hammond's upper and lower jaws was entirely inappropriate and comprised serious negligence by the defendant.
Mrs Hammond will now also have to endure a further five years during which she will require significant surgery and other treatment.
She claimed damages for personal injuries, loss and damage suffered as a result of the negligence and breach of duty by the dentist in his treatment of her between May 1991 and October 1995.
She said that as a result of the dentist's negligence she had suffered ongoing, continuous pain and discomfort, distress and unnecessary physical and psychological injury which continues today and will continue into the future.
In his defence, Mr Bastible denied that he had been negligent in the manner alleged and claimed that Mrs Hammond was guilty of contributory negligence in failing to mitigate her injuries and losses.
In his judgment, Judge Quirke said that he found Mrs Hammond to be a truthful and conscientious witness. He said he accepted her evidence without qualification and he added: "Where her evidence conflicts with that of the defendant, I prefer the evidence of the plaintiff."
He said he was satisfied on the evidence that the dental treatment provided by the defendant for Mrs Hammond between 1991 and 1995 was negligent and fell below the standards required of a dental surgeon in general practice during those years.
The award comprised €170,000 in general damages, €50,000 for pain and suffering over the next five years and €35,000 to compensate for past and future expenses.