A Winnebago County jury has awarded a Rockford woman $1,172,728.03 in a dental malpractice case. It is the largest dental malpractice verdict ever awarded in Illinois, according to the plaintiff’s attorney, Kurt D. Lloyd.
Dorothy A. Hicks went to oral surgeon John F Wonderlick in 1987 to have a tooth pulled. Wonderlick’s assistant checked the woman’s blood pressure and then Wonderlick gave the woman seven milligrams of valium over 90 seconds and 80 milligrams of sodium brevital over five seconds to anesthetize her for 10 minutes.
Wonderlick pulled the tooth and left the room. One of his two dental assistants felt for Hicks’ pulse and tried to wake her, then left the room. The other dental assistant remained in the room and watched the patient’s breathing, but did not monitor her vital signs again. One-half hour after the drugs had been administered, Hicks had a cardiac arrest. She was revived in two minutes, but suffered irreversible brain damage.
In 1989, Hicks attorney Kurt Lloyd filed a suit against Wonderlick and Rockford Oral Surgery Ltd.
Hick’s lawyers said Wonderlick administered the sodium brevital at eight times the recommended rate of speed. They also argued that the doctor and assistants failed to monitor vital signs and the dentist left the room while the patient was still unconscious.
Wonderlick and Rockford Oral Surgery Ltd. were represented by Lawrence Kream of Kostantacos, Traum, Reuterfors & McWilliams in Rockford. They contended that the dentist and his assistants monitored Hicks in conformance with the normal standard of care. They also said the rate of injection of the sodium brevital was proper and the doctor did not violate the standard of care by leaving the room.
The plaintiff’s attorneys had asked the jury to award about $3 million. The trial lasted six days. The jury was out for about four hours before reaching its verdict on Dec. 19. Judge Harris Agnew presided in the case, Dorothy A. Hicks v. John F. Wonderlick, D.D.S. and Rockford Oral Surgery Ltd., No. 89 L 21. via Lawyers of Distinction