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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Lawyer
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I paid $19,000.00 in full (Jan 2011) for implants and an upper

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I paid $19,000.00 in full (Jan 2011) for implants and an upper dental bridge (All on 4) to a dentist here in California. About a month ago I was in the dental office, the owner-dentist and lab assistant placed the bridge in my mouth so I know and want you to know the final permanent bridge exists. The owner-dentist stated the bridge was 98% done but there was a bit more work that needed to be done by the lab so the bridge was sent back to the lab, a lab that is owned by the owner-dentist and is in the same building. Since that last appointment the owner has permanently closed his doors and filed bankruptcy.
I spoke with the owner-dentist yesterday. He told me he is in the process of arranging for another facility to take on his cases but there will be no money from him to the other facility for the work that was done; I will have to pay this new facility for further work. He also told me my bridge is finished sitting in the lab at his office. I asked him if I could come in to pick them up (2hr drive for me) with a copy of my case file, he said there is no one at the office that he would call me later in the week.
I want to know what my rights are. I have documentation proving the work/services/product was paid in full. If this dentist doesn’t get back to me or in the event that arrangements are made to pick them up and he doesn’t show for the appointment, what recourse do I have? If my bridge and case file is sent to the new facility, do I have the right to get my bridge and case file from them without paying more that for a copy fee of my case file? What are my rights and what recourse do I have here?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

My name is XXXXX XXXXX X'd be happy to answer your questions today.

If you paid in full under the agreement that you made with the dentist, and he refuses to complete the work, he is in breach of the agreement. That means that you have the option of suing for the cost of having the work completed by a third party. If he will not release the bridge to you, since you paid for it, you also have the option of suing for the cost of the bridge itself.

If the cost of those two things is less than $7,500, you can sue in Small Claims Court. I'm not sure how much of what you paid is for work that was completed, so that may be an option. If you decide to have the third party install the bridge, then you'd only be suing for what they charged you, which may be a way of staying under the limit.
http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-smallclaims.htm


Another option is to have a local attorney send a demand letter, insisting that the dentist complete the work in order to avoid a lawsuit. If he believes that you will sue for reimbursement, he may be willing to hand over the bridge and pay you not to go to court. If you're going to try to negotiate, it would help to have estimates from a couple of other places so you know what they would charge you to install the bridge.

If you have any questions or concerns about what I've written, please reply so that I may address them. It's important to me that you are 100% satisfied with the service I provide. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so that I get credit for answering your question. Thank you.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

This dentist has filed bankruptcy and his doors are closed. He will not be completing any work. I’ve googled the new facility he states he is sending everything to and that facility is not one I would get treatment from, bad, bad reviews. Suing is not an option here. He has numerous lawsuits against him for the same or similar reasons and attorneys can’t locate any assets so those cases are dead in the water. No attorneys will take on cases against him because of that. He also does not have malpractice/liability insurance. I want to know - If this dentist doesn’t get back to me or in the event that arrangements are made to pick them up and he doesn’t show for the appointment, what recourse do I have? If my bridge and case file is sent to the new facility, do I have the right to get my bridge and case file from them? What are my rights and what recourse do I have here?

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
If the new facility refuses to release the bridge, you can sue for conversion. Conversion is the civil equivalent of theft. Essentially, they have no legal right to hold onto a bridge that you paid for (and did not ever agree to give to them). If they are unwilling or unable to release the bridge, a judge can order them to pay you the full value. In most cases, they would prefer to give you the bridge than cash.

The statute of limitations starts to run when they receive the bridge, and you have three years to file suit. Hopefully, you can reach a resolution in less time than that.

They should allow you to just schedule a time to come pick it up. If they won't, a demand letter sent via certified mail may get their attention (whether you choose to write it yourself or have a lawyer do it).
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 19515
Experience: Lawyer
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