Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Garber v. United States

United States District Court, C.D. California

February 27, 2017


          Present: The Honorable CHRISTINA A. SNYDER Judge.


         Proceedings: (IN CHAMBERS) - DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Filed July 27, 2016, Dkt. 78)

         PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SECOND DEPOSITION (Filed December 19, 2016, Dkt. 128)


         On August 4, 2015, plaintiff Robert Garber, proceeding pro se, filed the instant action against defendants the United States of America, the Department of Health and Human Services ("HHS"), Roland Giedraitis ("Dr. Giedraitis"), Grace Hardy ("Dr. Hardy"), and the Northeast Valley Health Corporation ("NVHC"). Dkt. 1. On October 28, 2015, the United States Attorney for the Central District of California filed a notice of substitution indicating that the United States of America was the appropriate defendant in this case. Dkt. 16. Accordingly, on November 3, 2015, the Court ordered the caption in this case corrected to name only the United States of America as the defendant in this action. Dkt. 22.

         On November 18, 2015, plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"), in which he asserts claims for (1) medical malpractice: (2) negligence; and (3) aiding and abetting. Dkt. 29. On February 9, 2016, the Court dismissed plaintiffs claim for "aiding and abetting." Dkt. 36. In brief, plaintiff alleges that between 2011 and 2014, he sustained injuries as a result of negligent dental care performed by Dr. Giedraitis and Dr. Hardy at the NVHC.

         On July 27, 2016, the United States filed a motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 78. The Government's motion relies, in part, upon a declaration by Dr. Kenneth Jacobs ("Dr. Jacobs") in which Dr. Jacobs states that plaintiffs dental care satisfied the appropriate standard of care for dental treatment. On October 24, 2016, the Court held oral argument on defendant's motion. At that time, Garber had not yet filed an opposition. Instead, Garber sought to depose Dr. Jacobs. See Dkt. 72. The Court granted a continuance to plaintiff.

         On December 14, 2016, plaintiff conducted a deposition of Dr. Jacobs. Thereafter, on December 19, 2016, plaintiff filed a motion requesting a second deposition of Dr. Jacobs. Dkt. 128. On December 21, 2016, the United States filed an opposition. Dkt. 129. On December 22, 2016, the Court took plaintiffs motion for a second deposition under submission, pending plaintiffs preparation and submission of a deposition transcript. Dkt. 130. On December 27, 2016, plaintiff filed a reply in support of his motion for a second deposition. Dkt. 132.

         On January 23, 2017, plaintiff filed a memorandum in opposition to the Government's motion for summary judgment, dkt. 136, as well as a number of exhibits, dkt. 140.[1] On January 30, 2017, the defendant filed a reply in support of its motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 143.

         On February 6, 2017, the Court distributed a draft order, tentatively granting summary judgment. Thereafter, the Court invited oral argument on the foregoing motions. Plaintiff commenced oral argument in response to the Court's tentative ruling; however, because of health concerns, plaintiffs oral argument was cut short and the hearing abruptly ended. As a result, the Court took defendant's motion for summary judgment under submission and granted plaintiff until March 20, 2017, to file a supplemental brief addressing the Court's tentative order. Dkt. 145. On February 17, 2017, plaintiff filed a "declaration in lieu of supplemental brief, " in which plaintiff stated that he would not file any further briefing in opposition to the motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 147.

         Having carefully considered the parties' arguments, the Court finds and concludes as follows.


         Except where otherwise noted, the following facts are undisputed.

         Plaintiffs claims stem from his dental treatment by a federally funded nonprofit, Northeast Valley Health Corporation. In or around 2001, plaintiff became a dental patient at NVHC, which provides comprehensive dental and medical care to the uninsured, indigent, and medically vulnerable. After his first dental examination, NVHC staff noted that plaintiff had a severe periodontal disease, which typically causes bone loss and subsequent tooth loss.[2]

         In 1976, plaintiff received a removable partial upper denture ("PUD"). A partial upper denture consists of prosthetic teeth attached to a base which are anchored for stability to the natural teeth still in a person's mouth. A removable PUD attaches to natural teeth with either a precision attachment or clasps. A precision attachment is an interlocking mechanism in which the PUD and natural teeth are attached by the connection of male and female parts on each side of the mouth. When a PUD is attached via a precision attachment, the user may hear the two parts click into one another. In contrast, a clasp is cast as part of a PUD framework. Clasps permit a dentist to more easily make adjustments. Clasps are less expensive to create, install, and alter than precision attachments. Plaintiffs original PUD was designed with precision attachments.

         When he became a patient at NVHC, NVHC staff told plaintiff that his periodontal disease would cause further bone loss, requiring serial modifications to his PUD. By the time plaintiff became a patient at NVHC, his PUD had already exceeded its normal service-life.[3] NVHC staff notified plaintiff that the many requisite modifications would eventually make his PUD unserviceable. NVHC dentists and hygienists repeatedly told plaintiff to replace his PUD with a full denture because of his poor dental health and ongoing bone loss. Plaintiff insisted upon retaining his PUD.

         NVHC does not, itself, fabricate or alter PUDs. Instead, an NVHC dentist takes an impression of the patient's mouth where the prosthetic will be placed and sends a request for PUD alterations or fabrication to an independent contractor at a third-party laboratory.

         Plaintiffs PUD originally relied upon a precision attachment in the upper right and left sides of plaintiff s jaw. The male portions of the precision attachments were on the PUD and the female portions were in plaintiffs mouth. Specifically, the precision attachment on the upper right side locked into place by connecting with a bar, or mini-bridge, between two of plaintiff s teeth. The precision attachment on the upper left side of the PUD interlocked with a ring between two of plaintiff s teeth on the upper left portion of his mouth.[4]

         On January 23, 2009, Dr. Giedraitis extracted one of the teeth to which plaintiffs mini-bridge had been attached because it was, "hopeless . . . [and] floating in perio[dontal] abscess." Giedraitis Decl. ¶ 12. In order to remove the tooth. Dr. Giedraitis had to cut the mini-bridge in the upper right side of plaintiff s jaw.[5] After removing plaintiffs natural tooth, Dr. Giedraitis placed an order with NVHC's contract laboratory to add a prosthetic tooth to the PUD. NVHC records indicate that Dr. Giedraitis's "plan" was to "add a wire clasp on 6" to replace the former precision attachment on that side of plaintiffs mouth.[6] Nietscu Ex. A US0004.

         On February 26, 2009, Dr. Giedraitis returned the modified PUD to plaintiff. On March 19, 2009, plaintiff visited NVHC complaining that his PUD was loose. Dr. Giedraitis assessed plaintiff as requiring a new clasp or precision attachment. Plaintiff told Dr. Giedraitis that he did not want a clasp because it did not look good and that plaintiff would proceed with his existing PUD.

         On October 13, 2011, plaintiff visited NVHC for an appointment with Dr. Giedraitis. During the October 13, 2011 appointment, Dr. Giedraitis placed an order to add new wire clasps to the PUD on tooth six and tooth eleven. Dr. Giedraitis avers that he placed the order for two new clasps because the existing clasp and precision attachment had stopped working. Dr. Giedraitis took an impression of plaintiff s mouth so that the lab could add the appropriate clasps. Dr. Giedraitis did not explain to plaintiff that the clasps were necessary because the precision attachment could not be repaired.

         On October 20, 2011, plaintiff returned to NVHC to retrieve the altered PUD. Dr. Hardy, with whom plaintiff met on October 20, 2011, adjusted the clasps to properly fit on plaintiffs teeth and delivered the PUD to plaintiff. After receiving the altered PUD plaintiff became very upset that the PUD now had two clasps in place of its former attachments.

         On January 10, 2013, Dr. Giedraitis extracted tooth number six because of plaintiffs periodontal disease. After the extraction of tooth six, to which the PUD had been clasped. Dr. Giedraitis ordered the laboratory to add a new clasp at tooth two for stability and to add a prosthetic tooth in the place of tooth six. Plaintiff received the newly repaired PUD on February 7, 2013.

         On December 5, 2013, plaintiff visited NVHC to pursue assistance with pain relating to the clasp on tooth eleven. Dr. Giedraitis took impressions and sent the PUD for repair. On December 12, 2013, Dr. Giedraitis returned the PUD to plaintiff with clasps at tooth two and eleven, but realized that it still had problems. Dr. Giedraitis noted that the PUD needed a new clasp at tooth two and that the newly repaired clasp on tooth eleven was injuring plaintiffs gum. Dr. Giedraitis took another impression of plaintiff s mouth and sent the PUD for additional repairs. On December 19, 2013, Dr. Giedraitis delivered the PUD back to plaintiff.

         On December 20, 2013, plaintiff returned to NVHC as an emergency, walk-in patient complaining of pain. Dr. Giedraitis noted that plaintiffs gums around tooth eleven were inflamed and possibly infected. Dr. Giedraitis recommended that plaintiff install a new removable partial denture since his outdated PUD was in disrepair.[7]Plaintiff refused and insisted that NVHC repair the precision attachments on his PUD or install a new precision attachment. Dr. Giedraitis told plaintiff that NVHC could not repair or install precision attachments and that plaintiff should visit ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.