Its a tough economy right now and it looks like even dentists are taking up side jobs to make some extra cash.
Dentist faces new lawsuit
Woman claims he disfigured her during breast reduction surgery
By VANESSA HO
A dentist and oral surgeon with a controversial past, including a raft of malpractice suits and a reprimand in a patient's death, has been sued again, this time by a Kirkland woman who said he botched a breast reduction on her three years ago when she was 15.
At the time, Thomas Laney was practicing in Seattle, where he was able to remain licensed and in business despite unorthodox training, the death of a patient and 10 lawsuits against him. The Seattle P-I found that Laney epitomized flaws in the state's disciplinary system of oral doctors.
In the most recent complaint, the woman, now 18, had seen Laney for a breast reduction in August 2005. The P-I is not naming the woman because of the intimate nature of the medical details. The complaint was filed last month in King County Superior Court.
The woman had been a high school athlete with disproportionately large breasts that hampered her ability to play sports, even when she wore three sports bras, said the woman's lawyer, Patricia Greenstreet. Her breasts also caused neck and back pain.
"It was not a cosmetic procedure, but a medically necessary procedure," Greenstreet said. "She was hurting."
But instead of feeling better, the woman felt worse. According to a plastic surgeon who supported the woman's complaint in court records, Laney lacked the training and education needed for the surgery.
The surgeon wrote that Laney violated "the standard of care" by allegedly mismarking the woman's breasts post-op and by placing her nipples "cross-eyed."
The surgeon also wrote that Laney gave the woman deformed breasts and "railroad" scars, by allegedly leaving her sutures in too long.
"As a result of this, she is very self-conscious about her body," Greenstreet said. She said the woman, now a college student, cannot live in a dorm with a shared bathroom and has never had a boyfriend.
Laney, who now practices in Moses Lake, referred a call for comment to his attorney, Steve Fitzer.
Fitzer said he could not respond to the allegations of disfigurement, because he did not know the condition of the woman's body.
But he said "plastic surgery leaves scars." If the alleged deformities are "terribly, terribly wrong," he said, "they'll have to prove it."
Fitzer also said the woman and her parents understood the potential risks of the surgery.
"No doctor and no patient wants complications," he said. "But the reasons you have elaborate and lengthy discussions, and sign elaborate consent forms, is because these complications are possible."
He said such forms were signed. He also said Laney, 55, no longer does cosmetic surgery, but did not know why.
Greenstreet countered that the consent was invalid, because the parents were not "fully informed" about Laney's training and experience.
The P-I found that Laney was doing full-body cosmetic surgeries without having done a residency or fellowship in the subject.
Instead, Laney trained through sporadic classes. His surgeries led to many malpractice lawsuits and complaints with the state.
But the state's medical and dental boards rarely imposed sanctions on Laney.
Once, when the board did reprimand him -- after partially blaming him in the death of a man who had facial work done -- the punishment was extra training and a fine.
The board's handling of Laney was part of a larger pattern of closing serious complaints against dentists with little review and few sanctions.