Dental Malpractice Lawsuit Results in $10.2M Verdict against Oral Surgeon

A jury has awarded $10.2 million in a New Jersey medical malpractice lawsuit filed over the wrongful death of a 21 year old man who had a genetic condition which should have precluded him from receiving oral surgery.

The dental malpractice lawsuit was filed by the family of Francis Keller in the Superior Court of New Jersey for Middlesex County against Dr. George Flugrad, an oral surgeon from Perth Amboy, New Jersey.

After having his wisdom teeth extracted by Dr. Flugrad on August 4, 2005, Keller suffered a reaction to the surgery that caused his throat to swell, eventually causing him to suffocate to death.

The central New Jersey jury found that Dr. Flugrad was medically negligent for performing the dental surgery knowing that Keller had a hereditary condition where any trauma to his face or hands could cause his immune system to react, resulting in swelling of the hands, face and airway. The immunity disorder should have precluded Keller from having the surgery or other dental work.

Although Dr. Flugrad attempted to place the blame on the family’s dentist, Dr. John Madaris, the jury found that Dr. Madaris was not negligent and found that Dr. Fulgrad committed medical malpractice for performing the dental surgery on Keller without getting medical clearance.

Keller’s family was awarded $10.2 million for his wrongful death, and with interest the total amount of the judgment will exceed $12 million. It is believed to be one of the largest awards oral surgery malpractice verdicts in the United States.

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  1. Frances Reply

    This is a shame!!!!!!! Shame on all the greedy people who want to sue doctors. For any reason. Dr. Flugrad is one of those rare special doctors. The type that really care and take good care of his patients. He is a good man. Maybe now you greedy bastrds will change him. Maybe now he will be like all those grumpy , impersonal doctors that don’t give a dam. The type that order to many test because they view each patient as an enemy. The next patient waiting to sue someone. Shame on all you greedy people. You change people. what goes around comes around. This is a good man and only good will come to him.

  2. Chris Reply

    I am very sorry to hear about this young man, but I am a medical student and I thought they were teaching us all of the obscure, strange, and low-yeild diseases but uh…what exactly is this mysterious immune-reaction-to-trauma-involving-the-head-and-hands thing? Can’t find it anywhere. Any experts have any input on this disorder?

  3. Chris Reply

    Wow, nevermind, ignore above comment. Ok, we did learn about this, just not with this description. The disorder is called C1 esterase inhibitor deficiency, or hereditary angioedema. Basically, this poor patient was lacking the ability to stop his immune system from causing his mucosal surfaces (lips, throat) to swell up in response to the surgery.

    I would have to disagree with Frances; when you don’t pay attention to a patient’s history, this is what happens. I am sure the oral surgeon is a good man who means well, but a young man lost his life because of someone’s mistake. I don’t think this is greed (although 10 million won’t bring anyone back); someone needs to be held accountable.

  4. Jeanne Reply

    Yes, you’re correct on both points. This is a tragedy- a young man lost his life and that is such a precious thing. And the oral surgeon is likely a good man who meant no harm but, only meant to do good. His is, however, just that…. a man. He made a mistake. He’s human. I’m sure he thinks about this young man daily and suffers miserably! He doesn’t suffer as much as the young man’s family who must miss him terribly but, he suffers through his own pain and guilt. Poor man. I feel for him. We all make mistakes. His was so great. May the Lord ease his mind.

  5. Murf Reply

    I find it interesting that we CAN find fault with someone other than the “victim” and as by default the typical answer…money. I find it interesting that a 21 year old cannot take responsibility for THEIR condition. Letting the world or an oral surgeon to take control IS a problem. How many people are going to blame others for a peanut allergy for EVERY place they go? Mistakes will always occur and as usual the lawyers make a profit “obtaining justice”. Maybe more people should go to Thailand where medical care is cheap and so is the malpractice rewards.
    Imagine if you at home and a guest comes to your house who
    has a “bizarre” allergy. What’s in your food? Are all your meals
    “organic enough”? Obviously you served them YOUR food, but
    if they react aren’t YOU to blame? Do you have enough liability
    insurance? To be safe, just tell them you can’t eat here. If your a restaurant owner, be careful you don’t get a “discrimination lawsuit”!!
    Life isn’t binary, but IF this guy was given a mass dose of steriods to “hopefully” abate his condition or was to told live with the pain since you can’t afford to go the hospital for intubation anesthesia, then who pays for the over treatment “potential”. Hell, as long as someone else pays, then everyone gets “perfect care” right? I wonder if this poor guy almost died when his “baby teeth”
    were falling out? Please, can’t people take responsibility and KNOW
    THEMSELVES! Wait till the government TELLS you which provider
    you were “given”. If you don’t trust your doctors’ treatment plan,
    then take control and go to someone else who can answer YOUR
    problems and “special needs”. Don’t ask the lawyers to solve it
    after you didn’t like the outcome.

  6. Maria Reply

    If the general dentist referred the patient to the oral surgeon for extractions was because of a reason. What about if the procedure was not done,then the patient will be suffering from a dental procedure too. I believe that any dental or medical procedure involve risks like losing your life. I believe the risk of exposing a patient to a procedure where the patient can have the misfortune like this one is the patient and or family decision and ultimately they are responsibles for the results. I feel sorry that he died, don’t get me wrong but I also think that the oral surgeon did his best to help the patient with his dental problem. The sad thing is that we are living in a world where we are always looking to blame others when the results of our decisions goes in the wrong direction.

  7. Ricky Reply

    You are WRONG maria and murf! You two must be a bit ignorant when it comes to dentists and doctors. THEY ARE A BUSINESS. THEY ARE OUT TO MAKE MONEY. Think about it. This dentist was extracting wisdom teeth. Did you think about why they were extracting it? Why is this procedure only done in two countries, USA and UK? Why isn’t it done in other countries? Did you guys know that dentists can bill the insurance 400 dollars per tooth extracted , along with the patient’s fees? If someone dies or is harmed, it is NO way the patient’s fault. The greedy dentist/health provider is to blame, and NO ONE ELSE. When you yourself are suffering with a permanent disability, then you will understand.

  8. Ben Reply

    Ricky please try to be better informed about what a health care business really is. The average overhead in a dental office is between 65 and 75% so the 400 you are suggesting he charged was actually 100 dollars when it is all said and done. After taxes you are actually talkng about 60$. Sixty dollars to remove a piece of tissue from someone’s body. After that calculate the 12 years of lost wages while in school and the 220,000 in student loan debt + interest over the 8 year payoff period. Further the dentist must pay personally for his or her own own health insurance. What do you get my friend when you calculate all this together – A MCDONALDS EMPLOYEE IN A LAB COAT! Wisdom teeth are removed in european as well as African countries usually when they have led to infection and nearly killed a patient (and cost 4,000 dollars each including the hospital stay). Have you heard of preventative medicine?? Did the oral surgeon proceed without a medical clearance? Yes. It should have been obtained not because he was not qualified but because he didn’t know the patient as well as the primary doctor. Please try to better understand the economics of what you are talking about before calling anyone ignorant. Further dentists and docs are fairly intelligent people and could probably find busines opportunitties that paid them far better than a mcdonald’s employee.

  9. cmh Reply

    What I want to know is why the parents weren’t involved? If your son is going for surgery and has a medical history which could lead to death… why didn’t the parents go with him to get his teeth extracted so that the doctor could get the accurate medical history. Is the 10million going to bring their son back?
    Yes the doctor should have taken an accurate medical history and people do make mistakes; however, the parents were at fault to some extent!!! Life is too precious to leave circumstances to chance!!!
    One very important point I would like to make is that the oral surgeon who extracted the teeth should NOT have tried to blame the dentist for his lack of taking a proper patient history…If the oral surgeon had taken a proper history, none of this would have happened!!!

  10. Priscilla Reply

    My original dentist put 4 implants in my upper jaw. Later that year one fell out,one was so crooked it got infected and had to be removed.
    9 months later I met with the same Dr/ implantologist-who offered to make a over denture for me.When I went to the other branch of the same clinic-that same day I was told the 2 remaining implants were not appropriate for an over denture ,because of the spacing and angle. This last August I had more painful surgery to remove the other two.Recently I located a Dr after I saw him 16 months ago- I had no idea where he was..
    The Doctor claims that if I had let him make me an over denture 3 and a half years ago-he would be responsible.for the failure of the implants. I believe the doctor used the wrong size implants and did not read my panax x ray to do the original surgeryI have many records and x rays of the implants in question.I spent over $7,000 buying useless implants and having painful surgery twice to remove them.I am not a wealthy woman-I have been to Bangkok 6 times in 4 years to work on my teeth.

  11. Gregory Reply

    This is a good example of a snowball effect. Doctor make a bad judgment call, paitent dies because of it and the family get a healthy award and the premiums goes up in the state which impacts the cost of healthcare. First, I’m glad for the family. The doctor should be locked up for his actions. Where is the integrity? Sorry… What was he thinking? It all boils down to values. The corruption is spreading like a plague and its affecting everyone.


  12. vince Reply

    Anyone who knows this Dr. knows he is such a nice guy..
    He has a heart and treats me great when im in there..
    When I 1st went into his office ,,he talked to me for 30 minutes about all kinds of stuff and looked at my chart real carefully..I guess maybe what happened to him made him extra careful..

  13. claudia Reply

    well that sucks for the young guy, but i think that he should be responsible for dying! how long did he new about his condition. im sure that he new about the consequenses and he still did it anyway…the real victim is the OS because he took part of this tragety..i feel sorry for both of them

  14. Carl Reply

    Dentists are ruthless and overcharge people. It is about time that the victims of such negligence get paid. That is right. Hit them in the wallet where it hurts the most. Most dentists are full of crap and are making a mint off people. It is nice to see a dentist pay the consequences for his actions. A life is lost cuz of his incompetence. It is your job as a professional to know about a persons risks before you do surgery on they. It makes my day to see the professional finally paying for his mistakes. 21 years old is way too young to die. That young man had his whole life ahead of him.

  15. Redd Reply

    damn sound like you were screwing the doctor… yeah things happen but as a doctor he should have examined the info first before starting any procedure…

  16. Nicole Reply

    As a dental hygienist, I take special interest in this case. It is horrible that this young man lost his life, and I hate that it happened. I hate it for everyone involved. However, as a patient you are responsible to make sure any medical issues are known. Even if the doctor does not specifically ask you about it, it is your duty to make sure they are knowledgeable about it.
    As far as dentists only wanting to take out third molars for the money, many times they are removed for cosmetic reasons (to prevent them from errupting and messing up where braces had been worn). Also, they are removed because of infections. I have seen two patients be hospitalized because of the infection that was caused by wisdom teeth, which could have become fatal had it not been treated.
    Not all dentists are out to make bank. Many actually do care about their patients and their health. It is sad that a few bad ones can ruin it for everyone.

  17. Carol Reply

    There were three possible check points that could have prevented the tragic loss of life.The patient,himself,should have made his conditioned known to the oral surgeon.Secondly,the dentist who made the referral should have had the patient’s condition emphasized to the oral surgeon,and lastly,the oral surgeon should have been totally familiar with any condition that could compromise a successful outcome to surgery performed.

  18. Carol Reply

    I am an anesthesiologist and I work both in hospital operating rooms and in a surgery center built by an oral surgeon. He is not greedy as Ricky accuses. He uses his center without charging a facility fee that a hospital would. He has me provide general anesthesia using intubation and a ventilator. He will sedate those patients on whom he can sedate and perform a short procedure. I do the cases that are a bit more involved or have a higher risk. His rates are on a par with an electrician or plumber who comes to your home and works for a couple of hours. So are mine.(my attorney charges more) The key here is the hereditary angioedema. Nicole makes the point. The patient and the patient’s family knew the facts. The patient here walked in with a rare risk factor. My oral surgeon would not attempt to treat and also sedate a patient with this condition. He would for a healthy 21 year old. Even I wouldn’t intubate this patient in a surgery center. He should have gone to a hospital for the procedure where a higher level of support would have been provided. He could have spent the night under careful monitoring. His problem was very treatable in a safe manner. It would have been a lot more expensive. The cost would have been covered as “medically necessary” by his medical insurance. A clerk in the insurance company may likely deny the first application for coverage, but an appeal accompanied by a medical necessity letter written by a medical doctor (unpaid for this effort), would have the insurance company likely approve the procedure. If the surgeon was made aware of a potential airway risk and proceeded without consideration of those risks, then shame on him. But, was he? (I’m not going to comment on those specialists who think they can perform general anesthesia on a patient and also perform a procedure..that’s a whole different question, as are the hostile comments made regarding greedy doctors…)

  19. mike Reply

    I went to him for 2 extractions, and he charged $500. A high price, IMO. I was referred to him by a dentist who didn’t want to pull teeth. That should have been my red flag. Dr Flugrad has extensive NY Jets logos all over his treatment rooms- I though i was in a model of the jets training room. His assistant was an admitted opiate abuser, and I sensed a somehwat questionable familiarity between the dr and the assistant.
    Having said all that- the extraction was routine and i have nothing bad to say about Dr Flugrad’s work or demeanor. He was friendly, and seemed completely comptetent, and his office was clean and comforable. I guess anyone can make a mistake, and being a doctor is not the picnic people like to think it is. I wish Dr flugrad well, and I would visit his office for treatment again without hesitation.

  20. BD Reply

    I don’t really quite understand this lawsuit. Isn’t the family and “victim” equally at fault as the doctor? Shouldn’t the family be sued for allowing their son to go see the doctor? Weren’t THEY being negligent? Can the oral surgeon counter sue for the psychological damage he’s suffering from this incident? So much BS. The oral surgeon should have waited for the medical clearance, but then again, the patient shouldn’t have gone to the oral surgeon in the first place. So the doctors are to blame for the general population’s stupidity and lawyers’ greed? I’m disgusted.

  21. BD Reply

    Hey Carl from April 2010,

    Maybe you should find out about overhead costs before posting, eh? And it makes your day to see someone get sued for 10.2 mil?? You think that 21 year old would’ve amounted to 10.2 mil??

    I hope Dr. Flugrad finds peace.

  22. anon Reply

    that kid should not be responsible for his own death . And it is not greedy to hold someone accountable for his death . Shame on those who had no compassion for this young man who had his whole life ahead of him . What idiotic comments . Especially when these comments aren’t even being made by professionals . .And to sit there and judge when this hasn’t happened to you . And to shame a family whose child has died because of this procedure I can’t believe the lack of compassion and the lack of intelligence from these comments .

  23. fernando Reply

    greedy family , as allways. while i feel bad for this 21 year old, he did have a medical condition the put him at risk .

  24. Bob & Ting Reply

    Me and my wife have been seeking an honest responsible dentist for the last year. We have
    had procedures done by at least seven different dentists, including implants and crowns.
    Hopefully, our current dentist will work out for us. But buyer beware. One out of seven is not
    a good average. The previous ones have overcharged us, recommend unnecessary work and
    basically tried to rip us off one way or the other. It is like a jungle to find this elusive honest
    so called caring dentist. Like a previous quote, the corruption is spreading. Is it time to leave
    NJ? Or are they still blaming the water. Currently seeking a dental malpractice lawyer to get
    after one dentist who has relocated to Hackensack, NJ to finally relieve me and my wife of
    all the pain and irritation of crowns that are letting food get underneath and creating an infection.
    We have had other crown work done without these problems. Damn, we regret going to these two
    greedy bastards.

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