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Dentists

Admissibility Rate: .667    (2/3)

Sampathachar v. Fed. Kemper Life Assurance Co., No. 05-3433 (3d Cir. June 16, 2006) (unpublished).  In claim on life insurance policy, insured offers testimony from forensic dentist Linda Himmelberger to identify decedent.  Jury finds for insured.  Admissibility affirmed.  Expert opined to similarities between teeth in post-mortem photos and teeth from insured's dental records.  No abuse of discretion.

Pearson v. Ramos, 237 F.3d 881 (7th Cir. 2001).  Prisoner brings civil rights action alleging that year-long loss of yard privileges resulting from four disciplinary infractions violated constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.  At trial, prisoner testifies that lack of exercise caused his teeth to fall out.  Jury awards damages.  Admissibility reversed.  There was no constitutional infraction, and defendants were moreover immune.  Incidentally, prisoner possessed no expertise that would make him competent to testify on causal relation, if any, between lack of exercise and poor gums.  Anyway, it was just one tooth.

Macsenti v. Becker, 237 F.3d 1223 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 533 U.S. 950 (2001).   An Oklahoma dentist (Dr. Jon David Becker) leaves patient on nitrous oxide and other medications for over ten hours, while dentist: (a) passes out ten to fifteen times during procedure (from exhaustion, he says); (b) leaves office to attend municipal court hearing for driving under suspended license; and (c) is arrested again for driving under suspended license on his way back to office.  In action for personal injury and intentional infliction of emotional distress, patient offers testimony from expert on oral surgery opining that plaintiff has suffered brain injury from diffusion hypoxia caused by medications administered by dentist, whose counsel does not object at time of oral surgeon's testimony but later moves for exclusion under Daubert after close of evidence.  Admissibility affirmed.  Because objection was untimely, admissibility decision is reviewed for manifest error.  None appears.

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