An oral surgeon who played a prank on his assistant by implanting fake boar tusks in her mouth, won $750,000 from his insurance company after the state Supreme Court sided with the dentist.
Dr. Robert Woo put fake boar tusks in his assistant’s mouth while she was under anesthesia for another procedure. The doctor took pictures of her with the tusks in and then removed them before the women woke up. Eventually the assistant found out about the pictures, became angry and embarrassed, and then quit her job. After that she decided to sue Woo.
The doctor’s insurance company, Fireman’s Fund, refused to pay for the claim because they said the joke was not part of a dentist offices’ normal business. Woo did not want to go to court so he settled with Tina Alberts for $250,000 and then sued his insurance company.
A King County Superior Court jury agreed that the insurance company should have covered the claim and awarded Woo with $750,000 from Fireman’s Fund. The insurance company took the case to an appeals court which agreed with Fireman’s Fund, but the state Supreme Court chose to let Woo keep the money he had been awarded.
The vote was 5-4, and one Justice stated that even though his joke was odd, it was still part of another dental procedure, so the insurance company is obligated to cover the costs.
For more information on this subject, please refer to our section on Medical Malpractice and Negligent Care.