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Judge upholds jury's decision

June 28, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

A Washington County Circuit Court jury found no negligence by a former Hagerstown dentist in a $20 million lawsuit filed by a Boonsboro woman who claimed she suffered permanent nerve damage in his office 4 1/2 years ago.

The jury's decision, arrived at in late May, was upheld June 22 by Circuit Judge Frederick Wright, who denied a motion for a new trial by Sandra J. Garcia's attorneys, court records said.

"I plan to appeal the decision," said Garcia when contacted Monday.

Filed in November 1997, the lawsuit alleged Garcia visited Dr. John F. Seidel for a dental procedure in January 1995 and left with chronic pain.

Seidel, reached Monday at his practice in Salisbury, Md., declined to comment.

His attorney, Stuart Herschfeld of Annapolis, said he and Seidel were "pleased with the outcome."

At the time of the incident, Seidel owned a practice on East Baltimore Street in Hagerstown. According to allegations in the suit and by Garcia's attorney, Leonard Buscemi, Seidel gave Garcia an anesthetic injection that caused nerve damage.

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Buscemi said Garcia's husband in the waiting room heard her scream, according to the lawsuit.

The suit asked for $5 million each in compensatory damage for two counts, negligence and informed consent. The suit also requested $10 million in punitive damages.

In the lawsuit, Buscemi said there is no cure for Garcia's condition short of severing the nerve, which would leave her with no feeling at all. In the meantime, he said she cannot work or live a normal life.

After six days of testimony, the jurors went out at 1:55 p.m. on May 25 and returned with their verdicts less than an hour later, court records said.

They cleared Seidel of negligence for failing to get informed consent. They also cleared him on counts of negligence for failing to use an acceptable degree of care and skill, court records said.

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