She's got a real pretty mouth on her, don't she?
July 29, 2007 7:35 AM   Subscribe

Tina Alberts, a dental assistant, raises pot bellied pigs. Knowing this, her wacky boss Dr. Woo decided to play a practical joke on her. When she was under anesthesia he temporarily gave her two boar teeth, leaving them in just long enough to stage a wacky unconscious photo. Later, he gave her the photo as a fun present. She freaked out. Everybody hired lawyers. Alberts got $250,000. Woo got $1,000,000. Yes, you read that right.
posted by miss lynnster (101 comments total)
 
This thread is worthless without pix.

/Sorry ... had a Fark moment there.
posted by RavinDave at 7:43 AM on July 29, 2007


Are you with me Doctor Woo
Are you really just a shadow
Of the man that I once knew
Are you crazy are you high
Or just an ordinary guy
Have you done all you can do
Are you with me Doctor
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:46 AM on July 29, 2007 [6 favorites]


okay, from my read, she shouldn't have freaked out. Dumb joke between co-workers. Went too far, but based on the info in the links, no real harm seems to have been intended.

But the insurance company is absolutely right. If they are signed to protect him from dentistry-related suits, this should not be covered.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 7:48 AM on July 29, 2007


Never trust a man who boars teeth for a living.
posted by nilihm at 7:50 AM on July 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


calling BME-zine, I think Dr. Woo has the beginning of a new practice...
posted by geos at 7:51 AM on July 29, 2007


Sounds like he went the whole hog.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 7:53 AM on July 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


First, do no ham.
posted by ColdChef at 7:55 AM on July 29, 2007 [28 favorites]


And this little piggy went to the bank!
posted by ericb at 7:56 AM on July 29, 2007


She had every right to freak out. At the time the joke was being played, she was a patient; this is totally inappropriate behavior either as a doctor or an employer.
posted by coldhotel at 7:56 AM on July 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


No ham, no foul.
posted by oddman at 7:58 AM on July 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


okay, from my read, she shouldn't have freaked out. Dumb joke between co-workers. Went too far, but based on the info in the links, no real harm seems to have been intended.

I agree with the "no harm intended," part but not with the "she shouldn't have freaked out" part. People have their reasons for their fears, and to be transformed, so to speak, into something that you have even an irrational fear of could be quite startling. And then to think it was done to you while unconscious... well, that would do something to your sense of trust, and may even have lifelong consequences.

It was an incredibly stupid and childish thing to do. That he ended up being rewarded for it is, well, what makes this an interesting post.
posted by The Deej at 7:59 AM on July 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think that illustrates the danger of sloppy definitions in a statute more than anything else.
To define "the practice of dentistry" the policy referred to a state statute which defined the "practice of dentistry". In that definition was included the phrase "a person who owns or operates a dental office".
He shouldn't have played the practical joke, as it was probably a little too far from what society considers an acceptable joke, but he's only recovered his losses, so it's not like he's actually profiting from this.

If anything, he's probably losing out in the long term, as who wants to go to a dentist who'd do this sort of thing?
posted by djgh at 8:06 AM on July 29, 2007


Shouldn't have freaked out?

Having your boss, and a trusted medical professional, f*ck with you while you're unconscious and take pictures of it? Okaaaay. I think I'm gonna reserve the right to freak out, thanks.

Anyhoo, great post. Just goes to show you, "even the losers get lucky some time."

A bit deceptive, though - maybe this loser's win against the insurance company kept them from messing with some people who actually deserved to be defended? So maybe it's not as morally screwed up as it seems on its face.
posted by facetious at 8:06 AM on July 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


Well, let me amend my "she shouldn't have freaked out" to acknowledge that she had every right to. If that makes sense.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 8:07 AM on July 29, 2007


Even more interesting?

On the ballot in Washington this fall is a provision that would provide for treble damages against insurance companies for bad faith. It is being opposed by the insurance industry who are running the usual "greedy trial lawyers" advertisements on TV. If the proposed new law had been in effect Dr. Woo would have been awarded $3,000,000.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:08 AM on July 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


So, to recap:

-woman freaks out over bad joke and sues for way more money than logically deserves - undoubtedly gets only some portion thereof, which is a quarter of a million

-idiot doctor turns to insurance company who doesn't want to pay because, hey, it was a joke

-insurance company has poorly drafted policy, forced to pay woman, attorneys and doctor, who gets money becaues whole ordeal was roughly as traumatic to him as having someone pose your limp, anestetized body with animal body parts for a joke picture

-MeFites read post, await long back and forth posts complaining about lawyers, the two parties, and insurance companies, but actually just hope someone posts the picture of the dental assistant with boar's teeth...because hey, when you think about it, it does sound pretty funny.
posted by Muddler at 8:11 AM on July 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Woo, who?
posted by BlueMetal at 8:11 AM on July 29, 2007


I'm not sure who I hate more--the dentist or the Insurance company.
posted by hadjiboy at 8:12 AM on July 29, 2007


ColdChef, perfect once again.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:18 AM on July 29, 2007


Okay, I can't find the pig-teeth pic from Dr. woo, but I did find this pic of a guy with pig teeth from Doctor Who. Does that count?
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 8:18 AM on July 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I am a Dentist! Although this scene is even better: Steve vs. Bill.
posted by homodigitalis at 8:22 AM on July 29, 2007


I, personally, would have laughed out loud if this had been done to me. I like a good practical joke and I think after years of working with someone I would have built up enough trust in this individual to accept this as a friendly joke between working *friends*.

But I'm a pretty laid back guy. Some people take life too seriously.

I would say that it is HIGHLY inappropriate to do this to any regular patients who don't work with the dentist.
posted by strontiumdog at 8:28 AM on July 29, 2007


And a hardy +1 to ColdChef
posted by strontiumdog at 8:29 AM on July 29, 2007


Woo later said that his jest was part of "a friendly working environment" he fostered in the office.

Fuck me, what a nightmare. I wonder if Dr. Woo got a quick BJ while she was out, too, just because at his office the employees are all his friends.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:31 AM on July 29, 2007


When you are under under anesthesia, in the care of a medical professional, there are no jokes. This is funny like teabagging.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:39 AM on July 29, 2007 [8 favorites]


Honestly, as goofy and outrageous as this story is, nothing seems to ring "wrong" here beyond the initial ill-advised practical joke.

Ms. Alberts was in the right to the degree she should have felt secure that she would not be messed with, even given her unique relationship with the doctor, when in an incredibly vulnerable situation. She deserved to be compensated when this trust was breached and she was.

Dr. Woo, who I don't think I'm going way out on a limb in assuming pays huge amounts of money per year for malpractice insurance, deserves to feel confident that his insurance company, who gladly accepts his money every month, will be there to assist him when confronted with malpractice lawsuits. The same way I would expect my auto insurance company to be there for me if I were in an accident - even one that I caused.

And seeing as they are two seperate issues, I don't see any reasons why the dollar amount won in one suit would or should have any bearing in the amount won in the other.
posted by The Gooch at 8:40 AM on July 29, 2007


Costello: Woo gets the money...

Abbott: He does--every dollar. Sometimes his wife comes down and collects it.

Costello: Woo's wife?

Abbott: Yes.

PAUSE
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:46 AM on July 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


What a dick.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:50 AM on July 29, 2007


Danny Westneat has a good column about this in today's Seattle Times.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:57 AM on July 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I would say that it is HIGHLY inappropriate to do this to any regular patients who don't work with the dentist.

Sure. But if you're getting a freebie because you happen to work for the guy, then as far as I'm concerned he should be able to charge for the work with an asshole practical joke.

Of course, I don't know if this work was a freebie, but if it was, well, I hope he teabagged her while he was at it.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:04 AM on July 29, 2007


Ever thus unto deadbeats.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:04 AM on July 29, 2007




Guess she was a little hog in the tooth, then, eh?
posted by DenOfSizer at 9:07 AM on July 29, 2007


If I was Dr. Woo I would have played with her vag and given her the photos. Top laffs!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:23 AM on July 29, 2007


The same way I would expect my auto insurance company to be there for me if I were in an accident - even one that I caused.
Would you expect your insurance company to be there for you if you deliberately caused an accident?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:36 AM on July 29, 2007



Sure. But if you're getting a freebie because you happen to work for the guy, then as far as I'm concerned he should be able to charge for the work with an asshole practical joke.


The whole point of his suit against his insurance company is that they declined to cover his legal fees against her because he was not acting in a professional capacity, which he says he was, and the court found he was.

Bottom line is that he took advantage of someone who was totally incapacitated, that in itself is enough to warrant her freakout...
posted by outsider at 9:37 AM on July 29, 2007


why was she knocked out?
it's hard to over-emphasize the vulnerability of someone unconscious from medication. especially when it's for medical purposes.

he should've stuck to photoshop.
I'd've been just as pissed at my co-workers who saw it going on and didn't stop him.

litigious? a tad.
posted by Busithoth at 9:43 AM on July 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


If the proposed new law had been in effect Dr. Woo would have been awarded $3,000,000.

Seems like if the new law were in effect, the insurance company wouldn't have been so quick to bail on their customer, in which case he'd have no grounds to sue them.
posted by unmake at 9:45 AM on July 29, 2007



If anything, he's probably losing out in the long term, as who wants to go to a dentist who'd do this sort of thing?
posted by djgh at 8:06 AM on July 29 [+] [!]


that's what I'm saying, if the internet has taught me anything (which it has, oh yes indeed) it's that people will fly thousands of miles and pay good money to have this sort of 'elective' dentistry performed!

Dr. Woo has just gotten some great advertising for his new business..
posted by geos at 9:45 AM on July 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


When this becomes a Lifetime Movie of the Week, be sure to sign up Fleetwood Mac for the theme song.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:47 AM on July 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


Well, thanks for giving me another reason never to be put under!

Seriously, I've had a good amount of dental work done (extraction, root canals, drilling into the jaw, etc.) but never once been put under even when the doctor recommended it. I can hold still and absorb pain, that's okay, as long as I'm aware of it happening.
posted by Talanvor at 9:50 AM on July 29, 2007


Am I missing something, or does Dr. Woo end up with $750K, and not a million? He paid out $250K, and was reimbursed for that by the settlement. That makes him even. Then he gets $750K from them. Ergo, he did not score a million dollar hit here. Ergo he's a freaking lameass and his lawyer is an embarrassment to the honorable profession.

Emotional distress, my ass.
posted by spitbull at 9:57 AM on July 29, 2007


When this becomes a Lifetime Movie of the Week, be sure to sign up Fleetwood Mac for the theme song.

Wow. A Tusk joke in the 21st century. God bless the internet.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:58 AM on July 29, 2007


Last time I passed out at a party, my friends (whom I trusted) took embarrassing pics of me.

I didn't realize at the time I was passing up a quarter-million dollar payday by not suing.

Live and learn.
posted by bashos_frog at 9:59 AM on July 29, 2007


Would you expect your insurance company to be there for you if you deliberately caused an accident?

It depends on the terms of my policy. By the terms of Dr. Woo's contract with his insurance, they should have covered him.
posted by buddha9090 at 10:01 AM on July 29, 2007


Um, guys? Is it just me, or is this "practical joke" really unsolicited body manipulation? In the world of red lines, there is none redder. Take the fucker's license, I say.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 10:03 AM on July 29, 2007 [4 favorites]


Maybe she's freaking out because BOAR TEETH in her MOUTH. Teeth that belonged inside the mouth of a dead boar, were, instead, in HER mouth. Practical jokes are not funny unless the victim laughs, that's the rule. I know i'd sue.
posted by amethysts at 10:08 AM on July 29, 2007


They weren't actual boars teeth, by the way.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 10:34 AM on July 29, 2007


Fucking with people who are unconscious during a medical procedure just ain't legit, no matter how funny the idea.

I'm quite surprised the guy's dentistry license hasn't been revoked by his professional association.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:47 AM on July 29, 2007


Am I the only one who heard "pigs" and "Woo" and automatically thought of this guy?
posted by jrossi4r at 10:52 AM on July 29, 2007


nothing seems to ring "wrong" here beyond the initial ill-advised practical joke.

That, and all the dollar amounts involved are at least 100 times too much.
posted by sfenders at 10:53 AM on July 29, 2007


I'd kill the God-damned son-of-a-bitch if he did that to me. Here's his website: http://www.wooandlarosa.com/
posted by BeerFilter at 10:55 AM on July 29, 2007


Fucking with people who are unconscious during a medical procedure just ain't legit, no matter how funny the idea.

Yeah, sorry, but all Fleetwood Mac humor aside, this earns a "Christ, what an asshole" from me. I hope he can stretch that 750 K awful far, because I have a feeling prospective clients won't see the humor in his proclivity for screwing around with people under anesthesia.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:58 AM on July 29, 2007


$250,000 for a practical joke. Two hundred and fifty thousand fucking US dollars. Tasteless prank or not, that is a stupidly large amount of money for this sort of thing, and (on preview) no one here seems to be paying any attention to the fact. Do folks in the US just take these kinds of sums for granted? It boggles the mind.

Sure, it's less than the spectacular (and obviously even more idiotic) multi-million dollar penalties you read about every now and then, but still.

I'm infuriated whenever I read of these sorts of payouts. There's no justice or reason in them, when the case doesn't involve something like serious sexual abuse or homicide, or something along those lines. My reaction stems from not being American, I think—it's probably the only country in the world where being a litigious fuck is an easy way for any pitiful trailer trash to hit pay dirt.

What would a sensible court in a sensible country award the victim in a case like this? Converted to dollars, low five digits at the absolute most, maybe just four, probably adding various expenses on top.

And don't get me started on the dentist's compensation.
posted by lifeless at 11:10 AM on July 29, 2007


I can hold still and absorb pain, that's okay, as long as I'm aware of it happening.

Absorb pain during the procedure? You mean you haven't even had a local while this is going on? My.
posted by frobozz at 11:16 AM on July 29, 2007


That, and all the dollar amounts involved are at least 100 times too much.

I can sort of understand the 250k amount. Presumably had it gone to trial, the amount of the award would have been much higher (plus court costs and atty's fees). The whole reason for such high figures is, as they French say "pour encourager les autres". This is unacceptable behavior and setting an amount that high or higher is designed to make an impression on someone else considering similar foolishness in the future.

The award to the Dentist, though? It does seem out of proportion, and in the context of the story, ridiculous. But, as kittens for breakfast said, he had better stretch it out as he prepares for a new line of work. His career as a dentist is over.
posted by psmealey at 11:19 AM on July 29, 2007


it's probably the only country in the world where being a litigious fuck is an easy way for any pitiful trailer trash to hit pay dirt.

I am sure there are scores of people who try to make their living through insurance fraud and frivolous lawsuits, but I'll wager that scant few of them are successful at it, and many of them end up spending time in prison, for the effort.

The whole reason stories like this are "news" is because of how rare they are. Some news outlets (and people trying to slime folks like John Edwards when he runs for office) would have you believe that this is commonplace. It's not.
posted by psmealey at 11:23 AM on July 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


In all fairness, Woo's not taking home 750k; the article says that part of that award was for attorneys' fees and costs. So, depending upon the type of fee arrangement Woo had with his attorney, Woo may see about half of that award.
posted by Dr. Zira at 11:35 AM on July 29, 2007


From the dissenting opinion:
Facts
Tina Alberts (Ms. Alberts) worked as a surgical assistant for Dr. Woo.

She informed Woo that she cared for abandoned pot-bellied pigs and had even named one "Walter." Id. Woo had made remarks such as, "I am going to hunt Walter down and kill him," "I am going to barbecue him," and "I will find him and eat him." Woo went boar hunting and brought photographs of a dead boar into the office to show Ms. Alberts, as well as a picture of himself in front of a skinned pig hanging on a hook.

Without a trace of irony, Woo claims his comments about pigs were part of a "friendly working environment" he encouraged in his office.
Nice guy.
posted by darksasami at 11:39 AM on July 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


When you are "put under" by a medical professional there is a large element of trust. Once you are knocked out they can do any goddamned thing to you and you have no say in it. That is why you go see "professionals" and not some fly by night whacko with a sharp knife and an understanding of anatomy. If I go under general anesthesia I don't want you doing a fucking thing to me that we haven't talked about or that is in response to an emergency. No pictures, no shoving fake boar's teeth in my mouth... nothing, period.
Once that trust is intentionally breached THAT becomes a serious issue, I've no trouble with a $250,000 settlement for a failure to maintain professional standards with a vulnerable client. Do you really want a frustrated stand-up comic as a doctor?

Just because you work for someone doesn't make them your friend, nor does it mean that they should screw around with you while your unconscious.
posted by edgeways at 11:39 AM on July 29, 2007 [6 favorites]


WOW! I've met Tina. She's a very close friend of my ex. And seeing how I just called me ex to tell her to read this thread, that's really all I have to say about this.
posted by vito90 at 11:44 AM on July 29, 2007


Someone tell me why this guy still has his license to practice dentistry.
posted by Mikey-San at 11:45 AM on July 29, 2007


Well said, Edgewise.
posted by The Deej at 11:49 AM on July 29, 2007


This is a tough one because we don't know what their working relationship was like. Maybe they joked around all the time, and he thought she'd get a laugh out of this too. And maybe she WOULD have if HE'D shown her the photos instead of someone else, which makes it look like she was the butt of somebody's private joke and raises questions about what else he could have been doing that he chose not to tell 'er, ya know? This would all be made that much worse if they didn't have an especially friendly working relationship. Maybe that's why she went as far as she did with the suit - maybe he was asshole on a regular basis, and this was just the last straw for her.

Whatever the case, I doubt he would have done this to an ordinary patient.
posted by katillathehun at 12:03 PM on July 29, 2007


I'm glad she had the presence of mind to restrict her actions to merely suing after the second stage, which was showing photos to other people. I'm phobic about both cameras and dentistry - I might have simply freaked out and gored the guy to death with my surprise new boar tusks. I'm pretty sure I could sail with not guilty by reason of insanity on that one.

"My client, who has read and seen various versions of The Island of Dr. Moreau more than twenty times combined, not to mention having had a formative childhood experience with Sssssss, merely assumed that she had been transformed into a hideous beastperson and reacted just as society has told her that an angry boar might - defensively and violently. Is her swine rage so hard to understand, for those of you who have been fortunate enough not to experience an involuntary transmogrification into a half-woman, half-animal form? Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I thank you for your time, and hope that you will see clear to justice being done today."
posted by adipocere at 1:22 PM on July 29, 2007


Oh my Lord, I totally remember Ssssssss!
posted by miss lynnster at 1:24 PM on July 29, 2007


She saves pigs and apparently loves the boarish beasts.

He hunts pigs and shoves pictures of their mutilated bodies in her face.

And then fucks about with his patient while she's unconcious, further humiliating her.

Robert C.S. Woo is, in my opinion, an asshole with a mean streak, and I sure as hell would never trust him with my health. Fuck him.

I encourage everyone to googlebomb Woo's website. His clientele need to know exactly what sort of assholery he gets up to when they're unconcious and unable to give consent for any silly-assed stunts he might want to pull

I can't believe the court found in his favour. I can not imagine how his behaviour is in any way insurable.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:32 PM on July 29, 2007


not to mention having had a formative childhood experience with Sssssss

Oh my Lord, I totally remember Ssssssss!

Me too. *shudders*
posted by amyms at 2:05 PM on July 29, 2007


It's my understanding that malpractice insurance covers you even if you're guilty of malpractice, which this guy most assuredly was. The insurance company tried to back out, and thus the finding.
posted by effugas at 2:14 PM on July 29, 2007


Unless she was going in for jaw surgery, I don't understand the use of anaethesia. For tooth removal, gum scraping, teeth lengthening, root canals and cavities, local anaesthesia works just fine.

Not blaming the victim or anything, I mean, that's a pretty fucked-up joke to play on someone.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:16 PM on July 29, 2007


She informed Woo that she cared for abandoned pot-bellied pigs and had even named one "Walter." Id. Woo had made remarks such as, "I am going to hunt Walter down and kill him," "I am going to barbecue him," and "I will find him and eat him." Woo went boar hunting and brought photographs of a dead boar into the office to show Ms. Alberts, as well as a picture of himself in front of a skinned pig hanging on a hook.
When I read earlier that he poked fun at her about her boars, I thought it was more like "Mmm. Bacon is good. Pork Chops are good." ... not showing her pictures of dead, skinned boars. The guy is clearly a dick.
posted by jeversol at 2:20 PM on July 29, 2007


The article said she was having oral surgery. They put in two flippers, so it sounds like she was having multiple bridgework done & possibly partial dentures or dental implants. Having that done, I'd probably want to be unconscious too.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:24 PM on July 29, 2007


(off topic miss lynnster, but I've been meaning to ask you, did you ever hear anything from dizzy? I miss him.)
posted by vronsky at 2:39 PM on July 29, 2007


Malpractice is supposed to be an accident right? If you intentionally maim someone your insurance isn't going to cover that are they?

This is sort of like trying to get insurance that will cover your house even in the event you lose your bearings and torch it yourself. Some sort of "future loss of judgement or sanity insurance". Probably hard to get..
posted by Wood at 3:13 PM on July 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


not to mention having had a formative childhood experience with Sssssss

Oh my Lord, I totally remember Ssssssss!

Me too. *shudders*


Y'all are crazy. Sssssss is an awesome movie.

Especially the part where Dirk Starbuck and Girly Wossname are frolicking nekkid in the pond... in order to preserve our delicate sensibilities, the filmmakers interposed a badly-painted plate of ivy or something similar. So when the camera would pan, so would the ivy. Good effect, and it lets you know how much the filmmakers cared about their artistic endeavor.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:05 PM on July 29, 2007


When I read earlier that he poked fun at her about her boars, I thought it was more like "Mmm. Bacon is good. Pork Chops are good." ... not showing her pictures of dead, skinned boars. The guy is clearly a dick.

Agreed. My earlier comments that she should not have freaked out over a light joke are strongly withdrawn.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 4:14 PM on July 29, 2007


I, personally, would have laughed out loud if this had been done to me. I like a good practical joke and I think after years of working with someone I would have built up enough trust in this individual to accept this as a friendly joke between working *friends*.

Your employer and boss is not your friend. He signs your paycheck and can terminate your employment at will. He is supposed to respect you as his employee. Particularly because of the power relationship involved, practical jokes played on underlings are by nature malicious.
posted by deanc at 4:35 PM on July 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Especially when the practical jokes in question, you know, SURGICALLY ALTER YOUR BODY WITHOUT YOUR KNOWLEDGE (OR PERMISSION).
posted by fingers_of_fire at 4:54 PM on July 29, 2007


It's my understanding that malpractice insurance covers you even if you're guilty of malpractice, which this guy most assuredly was.

Good point.

Malpractice is supposed to be an accident right? If you intentionally maim someone your insurance isn't going to cover that are they?

Better point.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:03 PM on July 29, 2007


Hmm, I can't believe I'm defending this guy, because he's quite clearly a major league asshat.

However, I suppose we can explore this for a moment.

He didn't set out to commit malpractice. Oh, he definitely did, but it's not like he said "wow, I'm going to cut off this girl's nose, because my malpractice insurance will cover it".

He was playing power games with his employees. He wasn't setting out to cause any medical harm. That harm did occur despite intent is arguably what malpractice insurance is meant to cover.

I mean, that's almost certainly why he won the case. Malpractice needs to cover things like not getting enough sleep before surgery. Being tired and being a consummate jackass are both human failings.

I do hope his peers in dentistry reconsider his licensing, however. What a total asshat.
posted by effugas at 5:43 PM on July 29, 2007


Y'know, maybe she should've just put the teeth back in and gone feral on his ass...
posted by miss lynnster at 6:01 PM on July 29, 2007


five fresh fish:It's my understanding that malpractice insurance covers you even if you're guilty of malpractice, which this guy most assuredly was.

Good point.

Malpractice is supposed to be an accident right? If you intentionally maim someone your insurance isn't going to cover that are they?

Better point.



From dictionary.com

mal·prac·tice /mælˈpræktɪs/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[mal-prak-tis] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
–noun
1. Law. failure of a professional person, as a physician or lawyer, to render proper services through reprehensible ignorance or negligence or through criminal intent, esp. when injury or loss follows.
2. any improper, negligent practice; misconduct or misuse.


The guy is clearly as ass, but what he did does fall under the definition of malpractice and thus, his insurance should have covered him.
posted by The Gooch at 6:33 PM on July 29, 2007


Malpractice insurance isn't for the doctor's benefit, it's intended for the plaintiff suing the doctor. Doctor pays the insurer in case he/she gets sued, plaintiff sues doctor, plaintiff gets a judgement for an amount of money that the doctor is found liable to pay, insurer (under the contract of insurance) forks over the actual cash. Thus, denying the coverage may punish the doctor, but more importantly, it deprives the plaintiff of redress. Punishing doctors is the job of medical ethics boards, and the courts. Of course, an insurer is free to sue the doctor for wrongly causing it to incur the liability, and they might well succeed in that, but the insurer still has to pay the victim of the doctor's malpractice.

The main reason the awards are so high is that the insurance industry makes such high awards possible, and has done so for longer than any of us personally remember. We've never lived in a world without insurance; we wouldn't really want to. We're living in an in-between stage, where insurance for so many things is so close to compulsory that it might as well be a tax, it might as well be spread out over the maximum number of people possible, and yet it isn't.

The secondary reason is that punitive damages are intended to be so punitive as to act as a deterrent to others engaging in the conduct being punished, and you can't financially punish a corporation in this day and age without talking in terms of seven figure sums.

The third reason, of course, is lawyers' fees. Courts still pay at least lip service to the idea that their decisions are made for plaintiffs and defendants, not lawyers. If this ceased to be a justifiable belief at all, no-one would sue, and hence, no profit for lawyers could be extracted.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 7:04 PM on July 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


jrossi4r said: Am I the only one who heard "pigs" and "Woo" and automatically thought of this guy?

Ha!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:25 PM on July 29, 2007


Would you expect your insurance company to be there for you if you deliberately caused an accident?

Yep. And I'd expect them to factor my hypothetical penchant for causing accidents into my premiums *grimace*.

Mommy.
posted by Ryvar at 8:02 PM on July 29, 2007


Argh. Guess it's all in the right/law after all.

Bummer.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:47 PM on July 29, 2007


Yeah, I didn't realize it until today either, but malpractice insurance apparently covers both "I'm a fuckup" and "I'm a douchebag."

Go figure.
posted by Ryvar at 9:11 PM on July 29, 2007


OTOH, his premiums are going to skyrocket.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:26 PM on July 29, 2007


What edgeways said. I sat through my wife's under-general procedure specifically for this reason; when you're under, you're UNDER, and even doctors and nurses are just people -- many of whom are fantastic and professional and moral, and at least one of whom are Woo.

Besides, if you found out later that someone took pictures of you with your eyes open and you don't remember it, what else might they have done?
posted by davejay at 12:01 AM on July 30, 2007


lifeless wrote: "I'm infuriated whenever I read of these sorts of payouts. There's no justice or reason in them, when the case doesn't involve something like serious sexual abuse or homicide, or something along those lines. My reaction stems from not being American, I think—it's probably the only country in the world where being a litigious fuck is an easy way for any pitiful trailer trash to hit pay dirt."

hey, c'mon people, its just a doctor violating someone's body while said person is under anesthesia.

Its not anything to get all uppity about. Doctor should have apologized, slipped her a few hundred bucks and have been done with it. Thats what I did last time I violated someone while they we're unconscious. In fact, I hear women like it when you do things to their bodies without their permission.

Jeez people, get a sense of humor and stop being so litigious.
posted by Avenger at 1:03 AM on July 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah? When I got my ears pierced, they instead chopped them off and installed pig's ears!

I just hope that when I sooey, I get awarded hamages too.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:36 AM on July 30, 2007


I think the whole "practical joke" in a "friendly work environment" was a bit of a stretch.

Dr. Woo put in the fake boar's teeth because he didn't like pigs and was tired of hearing her talk about her pet pig.

Then he took pictures of an unconscious woman--this is just sadistic--even propping open her eyes for some of the pics. I can just imagine how spooky and crazy that made her look.

If he had shared the pics with her after that, it's a joke in really bad taste, and she could have said she was horrified and told him to get rid of the pics.

Instead, he went around behind her back (the less-than-friendly part) and freely distributed the pics around the office while keeping them from the woman herself because, in his words, they were too ugly.

That has malicious all over it. He was smart to just settle out of court and give her some money.

But he's right, that's what his insurance company is supposed to do for him, cover his ass. Are the amounts ridiculous? Absolutely, especially his 1 million. But both the lawsuits have some merit, even though the original joke was pretty sick.
posted by misha at 9:16 AM on July 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


So would it have been ok for him to take pictures of her boobs while she was unconscious if he never showed them to anyone?
I think I understand where the thought that the damages came because he showed the pictures to other people, but I disagree. Damages came when aa medical professional treated a patient, whether or not she was his friend, whether or not she was a coworker, as a prop for a joke while she was unconscious and non-consenting.

he didn't like pigs and was tired of hearing her talk about her pet pig.


Sane reaction: I appreciate your feelings on this matter, but I want you to keep further discussions about this outside of work.

Batshitinsane reaction: Hey look at these skinned pigs, hahahah, oh and everyone look at these pictures of her unconscious with pig's teeth, hahaha.

Just another example of this tiny rant
posted by edgeways at 10:27 AM on July 30, 2007


What Avenger said. If someone's under general sedation, they are trusting the doctors involved absolutely. This is totally an issue of medical ethics, and, last time I checked, dentists take the (Hippocratic) Oath just like the rest of them.

Now Tina's gotta live on, just waiting for the day when those pictures are leaked to CNN, or wherever, and then everybody she meets on the street reacts to her face. I hardly think that's worth the $250k she received for it (plus leaving her job, plus whatever her real current hardship is.)
posted by newdaddy at 11:24 AM on July 30, 2007


Just to Clarify, This was a set of "Flippers" that were made to look like boars tusks.

There was no body modification and no animal parts were used in the flippers.

They are basically retainers with fake teeth attached.


This is like putting a red rubber nose and face paint on her.

It is wrong but not 250000 wrong
posted by Megafly at 1:03 PM on July 30, 2007


He may not have been $250,000 wrong, but he wasn't $750,000 right either.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:32 PM on July 30, 2007


but he wasn't $750,000 right either.

I think he was, but i am biased as i'm infuriated with the insurance industry in general for taking peoples money then looking for any excuse to weasel out of paying up.

It is another issue of trust, people pay (often out the fucking arse) for insurance for the peace of mind it provides, then when they need it the insurers tell them to fuck off.

Im glad they got stung, what Woo did, wrong or not, was covered and he deserved the protection he spent years paying for.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 1:52 PM on July 30, 2007


This is like putting a red rubber nose and face paint on her.

It is wrong but not 250000 wrong
Horseshit.

Woo is a medical professional, and she was under full sedation. She was placing her faith and trust in him to protect her from harm during a time when she could not do so for herself.

He violated what is considered a nearly sacred bond of trust between medical practitioner and patient, and one upon which a large part of our medical system is based, by abusing her while she was unable to defend herself and he was in a position of trust with her.

She voluntarily placed herself under his protection, and he, with forethought, chose to take advantage of that position of power to engage in acts he knew she would never tolerate while in her full capacity.

It's not the nature of the act that's at issue for most of the professional medical personnel reading this article. It's the fact of the violation of trust. Once you violate that bond of trust, it cannot be re-established. If you're willing to put hog's teeth in a patient's mouth, what else might you be willing to do, given sufficient motivation?

The only acceptable answer to the question of "when is it acceptable to play practical jokes on an anesthetized patient" is, and always has been, "never". And anyone who thinks otherwise should have their head examined.
posted by scrump at 2:38 PM on July 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


And anyone who thinks otherwise should have their head examined.

Preferably under general anaesthetic.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:33 PM on July 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm with scrump and BeerFilter on this one. Why is this guy still alive?
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:22 AM on July 31, 2007


Because you haven't gone and killed him yet? C'mon, hop to it instead of whinging about it! The blood washes out... eventually.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:20 PM on July 31, 2007


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