Madison - St. Clair Record

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Madison County man's lawsuit against Troy dentist in its last continuance, says judge in setting October trial date

State Court

By Karen Kidd | Sep 10, 2019

Defense attorney Matthew Zittel of Neville Richards & Wuller in Belleville.

EDWARDSVILLE — After multiple continuances, a Madison County man's lawsuit against a Troy dentist that he claims botched his dental implants will go to trial next month, the judge in the case said in an order issued earlier this summer.

Madison County Circuit Judge David Dugan reset trial in Sydney J. Mulder's lawsuit against Richard R. Boatman Jr., owner of Troy Family Dental, for Oct. 7. In his order issued July 18, Dugan told the parties in the case that this would be the last time the trial will be continued.

Dugan denied Mulder's motion to reconsider trial continuance, over Mulder's "strenuous objections," and also denied Mulder's motion to compel Boatman to provide contact information for his employees as part of witness pre-trial interviews. Dugan did order Boatman to produce his employees for a deposition.

"Defendant's prior grantage of trial a trial continuance shall be the last," Dugan's order said.

Mulder filed suit against Boatman in May 2016, alleging negligence and failure to take sufficient measures to prevent injuries, over a surgical tooth extraction in August 2014 and denture implant installation in the spring of the following year. In his first amended complaint, Mulder claimed the implants did not property fit and that ulcers resulted from food particles that became trapped between this dentures and gums.

"Dr. Boatman ultimately discontinued plaintiff's treatment without alleviating the pain or rectifying the damage he had caused," the first amended complaint said.

Mulder has been seeking damages of more $50,000 and any further relief as the court sees fit.

The case has been in pretrial proceedings ever since.

In June, Mulder filed a motion asking Dugan to reconsider his decision to grant a defense motion for yet another continuance in the case. Trial had been scheduled for Aug. 12 and was placed on Dugan's civil docket for Sept. 4 but Dugan's allowance of the continuance bumped the date into October.

Mulder's counsel complained in a motion that they already were having problems getting the defense to cooperate in deposition, including Boatman's alleged refusal to submit to deposition. In December 2017, Madison County Circuit Court Judge Barbara Crowder issued an order requiring Boatman to tender deposition days.

"This was because Dr. Boatman had ignored all prior requests," Mulder's counsel wrote in a motion. "He then violated Judge Crowder's order by failing to tender dates."

Mulder's counsel also alleged that defense counsel "have engaged in other tactics designed to delay this action," their motion said.

"Plaintiff has been repeatedly prejudiced and continues to be prejudiced by defendants' delays," the motion said. "They should not be allowed."

In their response to Mulder's motion, counsel for Boatman maintained they've been having their own problems deposing Mulder's current treating physician and that they can't go to trial until that deposition is complete. A further continuance won't prejudice Mulder, despite assertions to the contrary, according to the response.

"Plaintiff has pointed to no prejudice (despite a conclusory statement that it was prejudiced) or fact evidencing even a modicum of prejudice by this brief continuance," the response said. "Alternatively, defendants have explicitly pointed to the prejudice they would suffer if the continuance they sought were to be denied, i.e., the inability to obtain the deposition of a necessary witness and treating dentist."

Boatman is represented by attorneys at Neville Richards & Wuller in Belleville. Mulder is represented by attorneys at Wendler Law in Edwardsville.

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