Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Prankster dentist wins case against insurer (Implanted boar tusks in assistant's mouth)
The Times of India ^ | July 27, 2007

Posted on 07/27/2007 11:57:11 AM PDT by Stoat

Prankster dentist wins case against insurer
27 Jul 2007, 0733 hrs IST,AP
OLYMPIA, WASHINGTON: An oral surgeon who played a practical joke on his assistant by implanting fake boar tusks in her mouth while she was under anesthesia was sued for it, but ended up getting a last laugh.

Dr. Robert Woo, who is originally from Hong Kong, took photos of her porcine dental work that later made the rounds. The employee, Tina Alberts, felt humiliated and quit, later suing her boss.

When Woo's insurance company, Fireman's Fund, would not deal with the lawsuit, Woo settled out of court with Alberts for $250,000 - and sued the insurers. A Superior Court jury agreed with him and awarded him $750,000, plus the out-of-court settlement he had paid.

The insurance company won the next round, with the state Court of Appeals saying the prank had nothing to do with Woo's practice of dentistry and that the carrier had no duty to represent him in the lawsuit. But the state Supreme Court on Thursday restored the award for Woo.

The backstory, the court said, is that Alberts' family raises potbellied pigs and that she frequently talked about them at the office where she worked for five years. ``Woo made several offensive comments about her pigs,'' the court said. Woo later said that his jest was part of ``a friendly working environment'' he fostered in the office.

One day when Woo was performing oral surgery on Alberts to replace two teeth with implants, he installed temporary bridges that he had shaped to look like boar tusks. While she was still under anesthesia, he took photos, some with her eyes propped open. Before she woke up, Woo removed the ``tusks'' and put in the proper replacement teeth.

Woo says he did not personally show her the pictures, thinking them too ugly, but that staffers gave her copies at her birthday party. Stunned, she went home and never went back to work. Woo tried to apologize; Alberts did not respond.

Soon, though, she sued, alleging ``outrage, battery, invasion of privacy'' and so forth. Fireman's told Woo his policy did not cover such claims and declined to pay for his defense. The practical joke was intentional and not a normal business activity, the insurers said.

Woo was delighted with the ruling, said his lawyer, Richard Kilpatrick, who described Woo as a kindhearted and fun-loving man who was chagrined that an office prank involving him and three other women staffers turned out so badly.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; News/Current Events; US: Washington
KEYWORDS: boartusks; dentist; dentistry; injustice; insurance; judiciary; robertwoo; teeth; tinaalberts; tusks; washington
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-67 next last
Although this has an obvious humor value, it illustrates one of the reasons why insurance costs are out of control in many arenas, including healthcare malpractice.  This insurance company has been forced by the state to reimburse a dentist for engaging in completely unprofessional behavior.

Yes, it was just a joke, nobody was harmed and it never should have gone to court to begin with, but this dentist was fully aware of the hysterical litigious environment that he works in and should have anticipated trouble.....nobody can take a joke anymore.

Now the assistant has won the lottery, the customers of the insurer will be paying higher premiums and the dentist has come out of it all as a 'winner'.

 

I posted this version from the Times of India because Free Republic posting rules require heavy editing of the local news sources that this was published in.  Other links:

FOXNews.com - Court Sides With Fun-Loving Dentist Over Tusk Prank - Local News News Articles National News US News

Justices rule in favor of jokester dentist

Local News Court awards oral surgeon $750,000 in boar-tusk case Seattle Times Newspaper

1 posted on 07/27/2007 11:57:18 AM PDT by Stoat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Stoat

Woo’s on first....


2 posted on 07/27/2007 12:00:45 PM PDT by Red Badger (No wonder Mexico is so filthy. Everybody who does cleaning jobs is HERE!.......)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Stoat

I had a desktop microphone sitting on my desk and once joked with an employee who sat behind me that I could ‘hear her from across the room’. I ended up in my bosses office getting threatened with invasion of privacy and legal action. I learned that you cannot joke with people at work.... grrrr it still pisses me off.


3 posted on 07/27/2007 12:00:54 PM PDT by Frapster (Arrrgghhh - hands off me booty, mate!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Stoat

I really think “Boar tusks” should be in quotations since they were not “really” boar tusks.

Good post though.


4 posted on 07/27/2007 12:01:07 PM PDT by Chuck54 (“If you want to be successful, put your effort into controlling the sail, not the wind.”)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Stoat

This story has teeth.


5 posted on 07/27/2007 12:01:14 PM PDT by battlegearboat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Stoat
Richard Kilpatrick, who described Woo as a kindhearted and fun-loving man who was chagrined that an office prank involving him and three other women staffers turned out so badly.

I'm sure he would be equally fun loving if someone played a nasty practical joke on him while he was knocked out.

susie

6 posted on 07/27/2007 12:03:12 PM PDT by brytlea (amnesty--an act of clemency by an authority by which pardon is granted esp. to a group of individual)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Stoat

So did he get 3x the amount of his settlement with his assistant from the insurance company because of “pain and suffering” caused by the company denying his claim?


7 posted on 07/27/2007 12:03:24 PM PDT by chrisser
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Stoat
This guy had the same dentist. He wasn't exactly pleased.

8 posted on 07/27/2007 12:03:36 PM PDT by ari-freedom (Complex problems have simple, easy to understand wrong answers.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Chuck54
I really think “Boar tusks” should be in quotations since they were not “really” boar tusks.

You're right, my bad.  I'm sorry   :-(

(standing in corner)

Good post though.

Thank you   :-)

9 posted on 07/27/2007 12:03:47 PM PDT by Stoat (Rice / Coulter 2008: Smart Ladies for a Strong America)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Frapster
I learned that you cannot joke with people at work...

Especially female coworkers. That frequently ends poorly.
10 posted on 07/27/2007 12:05:07 PM PDT by JamesP81 (Keep your friends close; keep your enemies at optimal engagement range)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Frapster

many years ago, I wanted to be the guy in charge..I worked in an office, wore a suit etc. etc..BUT, I got sick of the PC environment, back-stabbing, easily offended, budget fighting people who wanted absolute control, I switched to a pair of blue jeans and began putting the equipment in..I became a tech..I make twice as much with NO BS..

my work life is 1000% better without having to worry about office stuff..


11 posted on 07/27/2007 12:05:17 PM PDT by GeorgiaDawg32 (Every Democrat Party cause eventually becomes a business then it degenerates into a racket.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Stoat

They were under sedation when he played his antics. That goes beyond just a joke.

I’m sure if you (or your wife or kids) had it happen to them you would be understanding.


12 posted on 07/27/2007 12:05:24 PM PDT by Red in Blue PA (Truth : Liberals :: Kryptonite : Superman)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ari-freedom
Mine are bigger..


13 posted on 07/27/2007 12:05:42 PM PDT by Dog ("Nothing important happened today." - from the diary of England’s King George III, July 4, 1776)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Stoat

Sounds like the dentist is the real pig.
He should be forced to disclose this incident to all patients before they undergo anesthesia.


14 posted on 07/27/2007 12:06:22 PM PDT by LongElegantLegs (<--- "Crazy Aunt" Conservative)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: brytlea
Richard Kilpatrick, who described Woo as a kindhearted and fun-loving man who was chagrined that an office prank involving him and three other women staffers turned out so badly.

I'm sure he would be equally fun loving if someone played a nasty practical joke on him while he was knocked out.

He probably would have sued for twice as much as the assistant did because of the additional "insult to his professional reputation"

Particularly considering all of the recent stories of dentists raping and molesting female patients while they are sedated, I'm astonished that he would do something like this.

15 posted on 07/27/2007 12:07:06 PM PDT by Stoat (Rice / Coulter 2008: Smart Ladies for a Strong America)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Stoat
Now the assistant has won the lottery, the customers of the insurer will be paying higher premiums and the dentist has come out of it all as a 'winner'.

You're exactly right and the moonbats on the Wa State Supreme Court are the enablers, it's disgusting.

16 posted on 07/27/2007 12:07:28 PM PDT by jazusamo (DefendOurMarines.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Stoat
Yes, it was just a joke, nobody was harmed and it never should have gone to court to begin with, but this dentist was fully aware of the hysterical litigious environment that he works in and should have anticipated trouble.....nobody can take a joke anymore. Now the assistant has won the lottery, the customers of the insurer will be paying higher premiums and the dentist has come out of it all as a 'winner'.

You summed it up well. I don't blame the victim for not taking the joke well. I'd be pissed too. But taking this to court is ridiculous.

17 posted on 07/27/2007 12:07:51 PM PDT by Aquinasfan (When you find "Sola Scriptura" in the Bible, let me know)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Stoat

This dentist is a kook.


18 posted on 07/27/2007 12:07:55 PM PDT by GadareneDemoniac
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ari-freedom

ROTFLOL!


19 posted on 07/27/2007 12:08:13 PM PDT by Red in Blue PA (Truth : Liberals :: Kryptonite : Superman)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: LongElegantLegs

I don’t trust dentists, so I have had a mini camera embedded in one of my rear molars.

They mess with me while I am under and I will have the evidence!


20 posted on 07/27/2007 12:09:04 PM PDT by Syncro
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Stoat

I wish we could find a photo of Tina Alberts. We could have a “Photoshop This Image” contest for the best boar tusks.


21 posted on 07/27/2007 12:09:50 PM PDT by ElkGroveDan (When toilet paper is a luxury, you have achieved communism.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GadareneDemoniac

He should lose his license.


22 posted on 07/27/2007 12:10:18 PM PDT by darkangel82 (Socialism is NOT an American value.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Frapster

I used to regularly joke with a coworker/classmate at a law firm where we were both clerks while in law school. One day, after she’d been making fun of my healthy eating habits, I changed the screen saver on her computer to say, “Mary is a big fan of honey baked hams,” and changed the secretary’s next to her to say, “Mary’s family affectionately refers to her as ‘the Educated Idiot.’” Both were inside jokes we were both familiar with.

When I got back from lunch, my boss threw a fit. I couldn’t even understand what the problem was, and I was basically being accused of everything from sexual harassment to “damaging the company computers.”


23 posted on 07/27/2007 12:10:22 PM PDT by LanPB01
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Stoat

Tina Alberts

24 posted on 07/27/2007 12:12:15 PM PDT by Manic_Episode (Some mornings, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Stoat

That’s an excellent point, and kind of what I was thinking. Really, there are things that are funny, but taking any kind of advantage of someone when they are in no position to defend themselves is not one of them. I myself would not have sued him, but I would have reported him to whatever professional org. dentists belong to, and I would also have trumpeted his unprofessional conduct far and wide.

susie


25 posted on 07/27/2007 12:13:16 PM PDT by brytlea (amnesty--an act of clemency by an authority by which pardon is granted esp. to a group of individual)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Red in Blue PA
They were under sedation when he played his antics. That goes beyond just a joke.

Agreed....it was completely wrong and unprofessional.  He shouldn't have even considered doing it.

I’m sure if you (or your wife or kids) had it happen to them you would be understanding.

I would have been incredibly ticked off and would have quit.  But would I have sued him?

No actual, physical harm was done, but the massive lawsuit payouts that are so common these days are quite an incentive.  I hope that I would have the strength and ability to resist the temptation and not contribute to the spiraling healthcare costs.

26 posted on 07/27/2007 12:14:33 PM PDT by Stoat (Rice / Coulter 2008: Smart Ladies for a Strong America)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: ElkGroveDan

I did a google search for Tina Alberts and all I can say after checking the first result is “those aren’t the droids we’re looking for”


27 posted on 07/27/2007 12:15:32 PM PDT by ari-freedom (Complex problems have simple, easy to understand wrong answers.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: Syncro

Is it bluetooth? ;-P


28 posted on 07/27/2007 12:15:44 PM PDT by LongElegantLegs (<--- "Crazy Aunt" Conservative)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: LongElegantLegs
Sounds like the dentist is the real pig.
He should be forced to disclose this incident to all patients before they undergo anesthesia.

Agreed.

29 posted on 07/27/2007 12:17:14 PM PDT by Stoat (Rice / Coulter 2008: Smart Ladies for a Strong America)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Stoat

I wouldn’t have sued, but I probably would have taken out a full-page advertisement in the newspaper, explaining what he’d done.

She could also have kept her job, and warned off potential customers.


30 posted on 07/27/2007 12:18:22 PM PDT by LongElegantLegs (<--- "Crazy Aunt" Conservative)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: JamesP81
learned that you cannot joke with people at work...

Especially female coworkers. That frequently ends poorly.

You can say that again! I walked by a co-workers office with a feather duster in my hand. (keep in mind this women has joked around with me for years - sometimes very sex-related jokes). As I walked by with the feather duster I said, "Time for the annual Pap Smear".

I got hauled into the big bosses office and was read the riot act. You would have thought I had raped her grandmother by her reaction. The fact that she has said much worse things to me made no difference. I certainly won't be speaking to her again.

31 posted on 07/27/2007 12:19:55 PM PDT by Tokra (I think I'll retire to Bedlam.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: GeorgiaDawg32
I got sick of the PC environment, back-stabbing, easily offended, budget fighting people who wanted absolute control, I switched to a pair of blue jeans and began putting the equipment in..I became a tech..I make twice as much with NO BS.

Several people I work with have made the same career path; Tech > Supervisor > Tech.

They work about the same amount of hours but make about a third more money and have fewer headaches.

Every time one of the people I work with tells me that they want to get promoted to supervisor I tell them not to do it, that I don’t think they will like it. Once in awhile one of those who get their wish comes back and tells me I was right.

It takes a certain type of person to be an effective and happy supervisor. Think maybe 1% of people would be in that group. Unfortunately most of the people in my experience that take those supervisory jobs and keep them are for the most part arrogant self important people. Some of them actually enjoy making those under them miserable (I actually had one admit that to me).

32 posted on 07/27/2007 12:19:55 PM PDT by Pontiac (Patriotism is the natural consequence of having a free mind in a free society.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Stoat

I need pics to decide guilt or innocence.


33 posted on 07/27/2007 12:20:52 PM PDT by Hacklehead (God, Guns, Guts and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Made America Great)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Stoat
Prankster dentist ... (Implanted boar tusks in assistant's mouth)

Man, I hate it when that happens.

Cordially,

34 posted on 07/27/2007 12:21:25 PM PDT by Diamond
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Stoat

My hero!


35 posted on 07/27/2007 12:22:02 PM PDT by theDentist (Qwerty ergo typo : I type, therefore I misspelll.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: LongElegantLegs
I wouldn’t have sued, but I probably would have taken out a full-page advertisement in the newspaper, explaining what he’d done.

And make the dentist pay for the ads.

She could also have kept her job, and warned off potential customers.

Well, I dunno...that would have been an awfully difficult working environment for all concerned.  I think that dental assistants are in very high demand, and so she could have most likely gotten a better job elsewhere.

36 posted on 07/27/2007 12:24:36 PM PDT by Stoat (Rice / Coulter 2008: Smart Ladies for a Strong America)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: brytlea

I have to wonder what “pictures” have not shown up as this playful man sedates the women staffers.


37 posted on 07/27/2007 12:25:02 PM PDT by doodad
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: JamesP81

As I can attest.


38 posted on 07/27/2007 12:26:21 PM PDT by doodad
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Stoat

Ok...

The dentist is an idiot who acted unprofessionally and outside his duties. He doesn’t deserve a dime in recompense.

The insurance company insured the dentist against professional liabilities. This was not a professional liability, it was a personal practical joke. They should not have to pay.

The employee was wronged... but not to the tune of $250,000... that’s ridiculous. At most, she should be compensated for her time out of work as a result of the humiliation and any costs associated with gaining new employment.

I’m sick of our court system lottery.


39 posted on 07/27/2007 12:27:26 PM PDT by pgyanke (Duncan Hunter 08--You want to elect a conservative? Then support a conservative!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: pgyanke
 
Ok...

The dentist is an idiot who acted unprofessionally and outside his duties. He doesn’t deserve a dime in recompense.

The insurance company insured the dentist against professional liabilities. This was not a professional liability, it was a personal practical joke. They should not have to pay.

The employee was wronged... but not to the tune of $250,000... that’s ridiculous. At most, she should be compensated for her time out of work as a result of the humiliation and any costs associated with gaining new employment.

I’m sick of our court system lottery.

Well-stated, and I agree on all counts.

40 posted on 07/27/2007 12:29:59 PM PDT by Stoat (Rice / Coulter 2008: Smart Ladies for a Strong America)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]

To: Stoat
Woo says he did not personally show her the pictures, thinking them too ugly, but that staffers gave her copies at her birthday party

I find it odd that this dentist found the pictures too ugly to show the her but did not have a problem showing her co workers not to mention giving them copies.

This is just too stupid for words.

Especially given how quickly such pictures can spread on the internet.

41 posted on 07/27/2007 12:30:42 PM PDT by Pontiac (Patriotism is the natural consequence of having a free mind in a free society.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: theDentist
My hero!

LMAO!!!!

42 posted on 07/27/2007 12:31:06 PM PDT by Stoat (Rice / Coulter 2008: Smart Ladies for a Strong America)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 35 | View Replies]

To: Stoat
I would have been incredibly ticked off and would have quit. But would I have sued him?

I think the discussion of the employee/patient is not the real point here.

She sued the doctor for his intentional behavior, not for negligent dentistry.

The dentist's malpractice insurance covers his possible negligence, not his intentional acts. This is true for all malpractice insurance policies, and is a matter of general public policy regarding insurance -- you can't insure yourself for your intentional wrongful acts, only negligence.

The insurance company, once it learned the facts, was therefore correct in its determination that it was not obligated to defend him against her claims, nor to reimburse him for the amount he -- and he alone - agreed to pay in settlement.

He then turned around and sued his insurance company for failing to represent him and indemnify him, but the insurance company was CORRECT in denying that coverage.

Now a jury has made an clearly incorrect decision to stick the insurance company with responsibility, because it's easy for a lawyer to draw on jury's hatred of insurance companies. This is what made, i.e., John Edwards who he is as well.

The action of the jury here just underscores how messed up our tort law system is.

43 posted on 07/27/2007 12:31:55 PM PDT by WL-law
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: Red in Blue PA

It’s totally inappropriate. The man is supposed to be a professional, and it was totally inappropriate for him to fool with someone under anesthesia in order to make her look ridiculous.

It’s not like she was drunk. She trusted him to give her professional care. He betrayed that trust.

Any professional that does this, well, to me his judgement is extremely suspect. I would not use him. And I wouldn’t work for him either. I would want him in some way censured by a professional board.


44 posted on 07/27/2007 12:32:07 PM PDT by I still care ("Remember... for it is the doom of men that they forget" - Merlin, from Excalibur)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: WL-law

Agreed; all excellent and true points.


45 posted on 07/27/2007 12:33:53 PM PDT by Stoat (Rice / Coulter 2008: Smart Ladies for a Strong America)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 43 | View Replies]

To: GeorgiaDawg32

I used to fix whatever went wrong in an office complex, there a few side benefits to repairing floor outlets.


46 posted on 07/27/2007 12:40:04 PM PDT by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, and writes again.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: doodad

Really....
susie


47 posted on 07/27/2007 12:40:54 PM PDT by brytlea (amnesty--an act of clemency by an authority by which pardon is granted esp. to a group of individual)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 37 | View Replies]

To: Stoat

I think the dentist should lose his license. I think this is horrible. You do not take advantage of people like this when they are under your care and knocked out. It is a trust issue. Just the fact that he took pics of her without her permission is bad enough. Add to that the fact that he fooled around with her person, makes it even worse. If he would have made up the implants with boars tusks on them but not installed them, only showed them to the patient as a joke, that’s as far as I think it should have gone. Putting them in her mouth and taking a pic is crossing the line.


48 posted on 07/27/2007 12:41:59 PM PDT by mamelukesabre
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: brytlea
I would have reported him to whatever professional org. dentists belong to, and I would also have trumpeted his unprofessional conduct far and wide

Agreed.  Maintaining the dignity of patients at all times is one of the foundations to all healthcare.  I do prehospital emergency medicine, and there are all sorts of things that we do in order to protect our patients such as shielding female patients from public view when performing CPR or other invasive or potentially embarrassing procedures.

I would have absolutely no problem in having this dentist's professional license revoked.  He cannot be trusted to maintain a patient's dignity.

49 posted on 07/27/2007 12:47:51 PM PDT by Stoat (Rice / Coulter 2008: Smart Ladies for a Strong America)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: Stoat

Re: I would have been incredibly ticked off and would have quit. But would I have sued him? No actual, physical harm was done

So what is to stop him from doing this again and again????


50 posted on 07/27/2007 12:48:00 PM PDT by Red in Blue PA (Truth : Liberals :: Kryptonite : Superman)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-67 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson