$35M award to 29 patients for root canals

SEATTLE — More than two dozen patients of a former Seattle-area dentist accused of performing hundreds of unnecessary root canals have been awarded $35 million in an arbitration proceeding.

Former King County Superior Court Judge Paris Kallas issued that award Wednesday.

The judge found that Henri Duyzend was negligent, failed to obtain informed consent from patients, committed fraud and violated the Washington Consumer Protection Act, The Seattle Times reported.

A sworn affidavit from Dr. David To said Duyzend performed nearly 2,200 root canals on about 500 patients in the five years before he retired in 2007. To purchased Duyzend’s practice and says a typical patient has fewer than two root canals.

State Health Department spokesman Donn Moyer said his agency has received 76 complaints about the man.

Duyzend started practicing dentistry in Shoreline, north of Seattle, in 1977, the Health Department said.

Moyer said the man surrendered his license in 2010 after negotiations, agreeing to never practice dentistry in the state again.

Both The Times and KING-TV said calls for comment to Duyzend and his lawyer were not returned. An Associated Press call to his home was not returned Wednesday night. Court documents show that in 2012 he denied any wrongdoing.

KING-TV reported that more than 200 patients filed malpractice claims against the dentist but the arbitration award benefits a smaller group of 29 who declined to settle their claims.

Construction worker Dan O’Neal had 20 root canals; he was awarded more than $2 million, KING reported.

Laurel Stuart told The Times she was Duyzend’s patient from the early days of his practice.

“We thought he was fabulous,” she said Wednesday, adding he made patients feel comfortable.

She said she started questioning his work about 15 years ago because “of all the root canals.” She had four, plus “lots of crowns” and said she had to go to a specialist to have implants when she lost four teeth.

Seattle dentist Dr. Fred Quarnstrom looked at records of Duyzend’s former patients and sat in on testimony earlier this month.

He told The Times that root canals are not uncommon, but a patient with four root canals is unusual.

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