Haley Buice, a 33 year-old mother of four, began seeing Dr. James Cauley in 2008 at Coast Dental of Georgia in Acworth. She alleged that Dr. Cauley demonstrated shoddy workmanship when implanting veneers, improperly fitted more than 12 crowns, proposed unnecessary treatment for healthy teeth, and ignored problems with unhealthy teeth. The treatments came to more than $20,000, but the billing was never properly documented. Dr. Cauley left Coast Dental in 2009 before getting a chance to finish the work, and Ms. Buice was forced to seek treatment from other dentists to fix Dr. Cauley’s work.
After filing the initial complaint in 2010, Ms. Buice’s lawyers discovered Dr. Cauley had a problems with drug abuse. In 2011, Ms. Buice filed a claim against Coast Dental for negligent hiring, supervision, and retention. Coast Dental hired Dr. Cauley in 2007 despite his testing positive for Valium at a drug screening. The complaint alleges Dr. Cauley overdosed on a narcotic five weeks after he was hired, and that he used nitrous oxide intended for patients.
Dr. Cauley eventually settled with Ms. Buice; the terms of the settlement are confidential. In her suit against Coast Dental, a jury awarded Ms. Buice $2.8 million in compensatory damages. Coast Dental settled with Ms. Buice on her claims concerning Dr. Cauley’s drug use and negligent hiring, retention, and supervision, and compensated her for potential punitive damages.
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