$35 million verdict against retired Shoreline dentist

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by LINDA BYRON / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @LByronK5

KING5.com

Posted on July 17, 2013 at 5:18 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 17 at 10:27 PM

A Seattle judge ruled Wednesday that a retired Shoreline dentist accused of doing hundreds of unnecessary root canals should pay $35 million in damages to 29 former patients.

More than 200 patients filed malpractice claims against Dr. Henri Duyzend, but the new ruling, which came in an arbitration proceeding, benefits a smaller group of patients who declined to settle their claims.

A KING 5 Investigation in 2012 showed that Duyzend performed multiple unneeded root canals and other procedures on his patients over the course of decades.

One patient, construction worker Dan O'Neal, got 20 root canals from the dentist. Another, occupational therapist Cheryl Grant, got 13 root canals.

Former Dental Board Commissioner Fred Quarnstrom, hired to review the patients' charts, said he was horrified by what Duyzend had done.

"I think it's obscene. A lot of people had a lot of damage done, spent a phenomenal amount of money for dentistry that wasn't needed," said Quarnstrom.

Wednesday's arbitration ruling found that Duyzend was negligent, committed fraud, and should pay damages ranging from $440,000 to more than $2 million per patient. The highest award will go to O'Neal -- $2,090,000.

Duyzend retired in 2007 and stopped practicing. Patient complaints were filed against him in 1994 and 1995, but it wasn't until 2010, when complaints flooded in, that the state Health Department stepped in. Duyzend surrendered his license and promised never to practice again in Washington state.

Calls to Duyzend's home and his attorney were not returned. It's not clear how much of the $35 million judgment Duyzend will be required to pay verses his malpractice insurer.

During his testimony, Duyzend said he owned a house and four condominiums, according to the attorney who filed the suit on behalf of the former patients.

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