Claimant, an inmate appearing
, has instituted this claim alleging negligence and dental
malpractice arising from a tooth extraction that occurred on or about August 1,
2000, while he was in the custody of the Department of Correctional Services and
incarcerated at Oneida Correctional Facility. The trial of this claim was held
at Marcy Correctional Facility on June 18, 2003, at which time claimant was the
sole witness to testify.
According to his claim and trial testimony, claimant stated that he consulted
with a dentist at Oneida Correctional Facility on or about August 1, 2000, while
he was experiencing severe pain from his first molar. The dentist recommended
to claimant that the tooth be extracted, and claimant agreed to the procedure.
During this extraction, the tooth broke, and after approximately one month of
continuing pain, for which claimant was given Tylenol and penicillin, he was
ultimately referred for oral surgery. During the oral surgery, a large section
of his gum was removed.
In his claim, claimant alleges that the dentist was negligent by causing his
tooth to break during the initial attempt at extraction, and thereafter by
removing a large piece of his gum, as well as failing to properly x-ray his
tooth socket before performing the oral surgery.
It is well settled that the State has a duty to provide reasonable and adequate
medical care to the inmates of its correctional facilities (
Rivers v State of New York
, 159 AD2d 788, lv denied
76 NY2d 701),
including dental care. If the alleged negligent act or omission is readily
determinable by the trier of fact based upon common knowledge, the appropriate
theory of recovery is negligence (Coursen v New York Hospital-Cornell Med.
, 114 AD2d 254). However, if a patient's treatment, or lack thereof,
is in controversy, a claim is more appropriately premised upon the more
particularized theory of malpractice (Hale v State of New York
, 53 AD2d
1025, lv denied
40 NY2d 804). Whether a claim is couched in terms of
negligence or malpractice, expert medical proof will be required if the issues
involve conditions beyond the common knowledge of a fact finder (Duffen v
State of New York
, 245 AD2d 653, lv denied
91 NY2d 810).
In this case, claimant's allegations of negligent dental treatment present
issues beyond the common knowledge of a layperson, and therefore expert medical
testimony is required to determine whether there has been any deviation from
accepted standards of care (
Macey v Hassam
, 97 AD2d 919).
In order to establish a
case of dental malpractice, a claimant must show that
"(1) there was a deviation or departure from the requisite standard of
dental practice, and (2) the departure from the requisite standard of practice
was a proximate cause of the complained of injury [citation omitted]".
(Knutson v Sand
, 282 AD2d 42, 43).
At trial, claimant did not present any expert medical testimony concerning his
treatment and the injuries allegedly sustained by him, and instead offered only
his own testimony as a layperson that the dental treatment was inadequate. In
the absence of any testimony from a medical expert, the Court cannot find that
the treatment provided claimant was inadequate.
I therefore find and conclude that claimant has failed to establish his claim
by a preponderance of the credible evidence. Accordingly, this claim is hereby
Any motions not heretofore ruled upon are hereby denied.
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.