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Court allows dental malpractice claim involving amalgam to move forward

New York—A New York appellate court has upheld a lower court ruling allowing a malpractice claim against a dentist to go to trial.

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, First Department, June 8 affirmed a ruling denying Dr. Hadley Bach's motion requesting summary dismissal of claims by a former patient that Dr. Bach committed dental malpractice by using bulk amalgam for a restoration instead of using encapsulated amalgam, allegedly resulting in mercury poisoning.

According to court documents, lawyers for patient Freya Koss, a Pennsylvania-based anti-amalgamist, claim that Dr. Bach "deviated from accepted standards of care by employing an amalgam that contained mercury, resulting in the patient suffering mercury poisoning, rather than using a pre-mixed, precapsulated amalgam filling."

The court ruled that based on reports from three expert witnesses on Ms. Koss' behalf, the witnesses "sufficiently raise a triable issue of fact as to whether defendant departed from the standards of accepted dental practice, and whether such deviation was a proximate cause of the patient's injuries."

The court considered that the experts "relied on such objective factors as the failure to use pre-mixed dental amalgams, and the high levels of gaseous mercury that the vapor testing found in plaintiff's mouth."

The court's ruling does not mean that there has been a definitive ruling on this subject. Rather, the court only concluded that a sufficient factual question has been raised to warrant a trial.

In 2009 the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs reinforced the Association's longtime position that "dental amalgam is considered a safe, affordable and durable material that has been used to restore the teeth of more than 100 million Americans."

To see that statement in its entirety, visit www.ada.org/1741.aspx.