WSHB partner Brian Hoffman leads defense team victory

In a closely watched dental malpractice trial, a 12-person Orange County jury returned a defense verdict in favor of WSHB’s client after deliberating for less than a day. Brian Hoffman, a partner at Wood Smith Henning & Berman, led the defense team representing a dentist of a high profile dental implant practice. WSHB attorney Michelle Birtja assisted Brian in the two-week trial that was completed to verdict on September 25, 2015.

Further complicating the case was the surgery center where the operation had been performed had been closed down after being raided due to allegedly operating without proper licenses. Named as a defendant, the surgery center was defaulted in the case leaving WSHB’s client as the lone defendant and target of various claims for damages. Plaintiff claimed ongoing injuries from improper bone grafting and related dental procedures and had asked the jury for the maximum general damages allowed under MICRA, plus special damages for past and future dental treatments.

“Selecting a jury was challenging given the great deal of publicity surrounding this matter in the local media,” said Brian. “Key witnesses involved with the surgery center fled the United States to escape legal liability which fueled the media fascination with this matter. This made the case more challenging as we were not able to produce key witnesses and provide the jury an alternative theory of what happened.”

According to Michelle, a further complicating factor in the case was a conscious sedation issue without proper licensing and oversight, which plaintiff brought into evidence in an effort to garner jury bias.

“This is another important win for both our client and the firm,” said Brian, who co-chairs the medical malpractice and elder abuse department at WSHB. “Our health care litigation team is built on proven trial talent and the ability to deliver consistent results.”

Brian has successfully tried and arbitrated more than 70 cases to verdict. He defends individuals, insurers and institutions facing claims of medical malpractice, elder abuse, negligence, and fraud. WSHB clients include nationwide professional liability insurers, hospitals, physicians and allied healthcare providers.

This defense verdict continues the undefeated record of WSHB in the medical malpractice area.

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