In what a lawyer called the largest dental malpractice judgment in California history, a jury has awarded a Palmdale woman $1.2 million from a dentist she said removed all her teeth when they simply needed cleaning.
Dr. Leoneed Gordon frightened her with a diagnosis that her teeth were so rotten they would fall out in a few months, Linda Jeffery said.
Sporting full dentures, the 46-year-old school secretary said she was "very happy with the verdict" in the 14-day trial in Los Angeles Superior Court that ended Monday with a unanimous jury vote.
Jeffery said she is looking into the possibility of dental implants.
Samuel Huestis, the North Hollywood attorney who represented Gordon, said neither he nor the dentist would comment on the verdict.
John Contos, the Westlake Village attorney who represented Jeffery, said Gordon is a Russian-trained dentist who has practiced in the area since 1985 and has offices in several locations between Sunland and Lancaster. According to records his office reviewed, the $1.2 million was the largest dental malpractice award ever made in California, Contos said.
The jury agreed that Gordon recommended pulling Jeffery's teeth because he would benefit financially, Contos said.
If he removed the teeth, Gordon would have to see Jeffery only about once every two years for realignment of the dentures but he would receive a monthly fee of about $25 from her insurance company just for having her listed as a patient, Contos said.
If Jeffery kept her teeth, she would most likely have needed regular cleanups and treatment that would have brought her to Gordon's office every few months, Contos said, but the insurance company would not have paid the dentist any more money, even though he would have to work harder.
"He sold her a bill of goods because it was to his economic advantage," he said.