A Cook County jury has awarded more than $500,000 to an Oak Park dentist who bought the practice of Dr. Lawrence Smith, then later learned that dentist defrauded patients and their insurance companies and inflated his revenue.
Plaintiffs Dr. Anne M. Fabricius and Oak Park Prosthodontics Ltd. sued Dr. Lawrence Smith, Corinne A. Smith and Distinctive Dental Services Ltd. in August 2014, alleging Lawrence Smith provided false and fraudulent patient information and financial records to Fabricius when she was interested in purchasing his dental practice.
The verdict, which was reached Friday after a trial before Cook County Associate Judge James E. Snyder, comprised $187,693 in compensatory damages, $309,051 in punitive damages and $90,186 in interest.
The verdict totaled $586,930.
Originally filed in the court’s Chancery Division, the case was transferred for trial to the Law Division in May.
Jurors found that Smith overstated his revenue to make his practice seem like more of a specialty operation than it actually was.
In her amended complaint filed in June 2015, Fabricius claimed she overpaid for Lawrence Smith’s practice because the purchase price was based on overstated revenues.
After obtaining a $775,000 loan, she took over the office and realized after meeting with her new patients that Smith would perform a simple procedure on a patient but bill as if it was a complex one.
Lawrence Smith countersued Fabricius and Oak Park Prosthodontics Ltd., claiming defamation and wrongful termination, both of which were voluntarily dismissed by Smith before trial.
Fabricius was represented by Duane Morris LLP partners John T. Schriver and Neville M. Bilimoria.
Schriver said the practice initially appealed to his client because the office was advertised as a high-end operation.
“She took over the practice and, for the first time, was able to look in patients’ mouths to see what he had actually done,” Schriver said.
She also said she would not have borrowed $775,000 from Bank of America to purchase Smith’s dental practice or entered into the lease in August 2013 had she been given accurate financial and patient information.
Schriver said his client feels vindicated after the three-year legal battle.
Carmen D. Caruso, a partner with the Carmen D. Caruso Law Firm, represented the defendants.
He said while he appreciated the jurors’ service, he was disappointed with their verdict.
“We are reviewing Dr. Smith’s next steps,” Caruso said.
Oak Park Prosthodontics, Ltd., et al., v. Lawrence P. Smith, DDS, et al., 14 CH 1259
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Content retrieved from https://www.chicagolawbulletin.com/archives/2017/09/26/500k-dentist-fraud-9-26-17