$750,000 awarded in dental trial

Brownstown woman sued Bloomington denture clinic for negligence in care

A Brownstown woman who sued a Bloomington denture clinic and dentist, charging negligence in her medical care, has been awarded $750,000 by a Monroe County Circuit Court jury after a weeklong trial.

The six jurors in Judge Frances Hill’s court deliberated for two hours Friday evening before making a decision, and also awarded her husband $75,000 for lost wages, suffering and loss of consortium.

The heart of the case: an undiagnosed dislocated jaw.

The lawsuit was filed by Mike and Virginia Rudolph in December 2013. The dental work that led to it — the extraction of 19 teeth and a jaw dislocation — was on Nov. 18, 2011. The case generated seven 3-inch-thick binders full of pictures and documents that were entered into evidence.

Exhibit No. 20 was a plastic food storage container with a pair of dentures inside that 69-year-old Virginia Rudolph wore for seven weeks with her mouth wired shut.

Attorney Roger Pardieck of Seymour asked jurors for $600,000 for his clients, but hoped they would consider more. “I thought it was a substantial case that should settle for $750,000, so we hit our target,” Pardieck said.

Ronald Mingus, the attorney for Affordable Dentures Bloomington PC and Dr. James Goodpaster, did not return a call Monday seeking comment. An appeal to the jury verdict can be filed within 30 days.

Pardieck argued that when Rudolph’s teeth were removed in preparation for dentures, her jaw was dislocated and that the injury went undiagnosed for months until the woman saw another dentist. In the meantime, he said, Affordable Dentures’ dentist Goodpaster saw his client numerous times, and made two sets of dentures for her, but did not notice or address the injury.

The failure to diagnose the dislocation and the fact the medical case went on so long were key issues, the lawyer said. His client could wear upper dentures but not lower ones, and for five years has been on a liquid and mashed food diet because of her inability to chew.

“She will have to have surgery and some extensive dental work in order to be able to have some sort of bottom denture appliance. It’s a tedious procedure, expensive and not pleasant to go through,” Pardieck said.

The Rudolphs, he said, are thankful about the verdict. “They are very grateful for the efforts and attention of the jury, who viewed lots of exhibits and worked long days.