SMILE IMPLANT CENTER PATIENTS DENTAL PATIENTS AND DENTAL PATIENTS OF DR. THOMAS J.TEICH AND DR. NADIA ABAZARNIA:
IMPORTANT NOTE: PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT THE FOLLOWING IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR A LEGAL CONSULTATION WITH A LAWYER AND YOU SHOULD NOT RELY ON THIS INTERNET POST AS LEGAL ADVICE FOR YOUR OWN SPECIFIC SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN FILING A LAWSUIT AGAINST DOCTORS TEICH, ABAZARNIA AND/OR THE SMILE IMPLANT CENTER, THERE ARE STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS THAT YOU MUST COMPLY WITH OR BE FOREVER BARRED FROM FILING A LAWSUIT. NOTHING IN THIS POST IS MEANT TO CONVEY ANY LEGAL OPINIONS ABOUT THE MERITS OR DEMERITS OF ANY LAWSUIT YOU MAY FILE OR ABOUT YOUR UNIQUE SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES. WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND THAT YOU CONTACT AN ATTORNEY WITHOUT DELAY TO DISCUSS YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AND REMEDIES.
Several months ago our law office filed one lawsuit against Dr. Thomas J Teich, Dr. Nadia Abazarnia, Teich Abazarnia Dental Corporation dba Smile Implant Center, Nt Investors, LLC and several other defendants on behalf of one of our existing clients. This client consulted with the Smile Implant Center about dental implant, obtained over $15,000 in financing which was paid to these dentists up front, but was never able to get the dental work completed. Many efforts were made to informally resolve these issues but Smile Implant Center and Drs. Teich & Abazarnia would not respond. Our client sent certified letters and made numerous phone calls as did we. Left with no choice, we filed a lawsuit to protect our existing client’s legal rights and remedies. This pending lawsuit caught the attention of persons on the internet who either posted or blogged about it.
As a result, our law office has received over 150 telephone calls from dental patients stating that they have been abandoned by Drs. Thomas J. Teich and Nadia Abazarnia of the Smile Implant Center formerly located at 100 Bayview Circle, Suite 600, Newport Beach California. These patients have left voicemail messages for us stating that the Smile Implant Center and Drs. Teich and Abazarnia have not completed their dental work despite having collected all of the payment for the full treatment plan up front. Many of these patients state that they financed their dental treatment at the encouragement of Drs.Teich & Abazarnia and/or their staff while visiting the Smile Implant Center for an initial consultation. Many of these patients are now stuck with having to make payments for dental work that has not been completed. Most indicated that they have repeatedly called Drs. Teich & Abazarnia and the Smile Implant Center but could not get appointments to have their dental work completed. Moreover, many patients have indicated they are in pain and/or have infections for which no other dentist can or will provide treatment because they do not know what kind implants Drs. Teich & Abazarnia placed. These patients state that Drs. Teich & Abazarnia are not available to them and they are therefore unable to retrieve their dental records.
Recently we were told that Drs. Teich and Abazarnia, after vacating their offices in Newport Beach, have relocated their dental practice to 15892 E. Pasadena, Tustin, CA 92708. We have also learned that CBS News investigative journalist David Goldstein contacted Dr. Teich in person at his Tustin/Santa Ana office. (see CBS Report here: http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2012/11/20/cbs2-investigation-patients-claim-oc-dentist-didnt-give-them-care-they-paid-for/) He was filmed but refused to discuss these issues with Mr. Goldstein. We strongly encourage you to watch this Special Report.
Please know that our hearts are with each and every one of you and that we sincerely wish you the very best of luck with resolving these painful and expensive issues. Unfortunately, at this point in time we are not accepting new Smile Implant Center cases/clients. We remain very sympathetic to those patients who have incomplete dental work, have finance payments, charges and interest due for work they never received, remain in pain, have infections and who otherwise believe they have been abandoned by Drs. Teich and Abazarnia and the Smile Implant Center. Below is an Action Guide to assist you with steps you can take right now.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
1. File a small claims action with your local Small Claims Court. The upper limit in most small claims courts these days is $10,000.00. For those of you who have lost this amount or less there is a reasonable chance that you could recover monies spent for dental work never done or not completed. No lawyers are permitted to represent parties in small claims court so Drs. Teich and Abazarnia will have to represent themselves. Most likely, neither will show up and even if they did, if they were paid for work they did not do or did not complete, its hard to see how they could win or you could lose. Be sure to name both dentists and the Smile Implant Center. All parties must be personally served with your summons and complaint and it might be worth investing in a professional process server to get that part done. Be sure to gather your evidence (e.g. receipts, financing statements, etc.) and have them ready to show the judge when your hearing comes up. Here is the link for the LA Superior Court Small Claims Division www.lasuperiorcourt.org/smallclaims/ui/. Here is the link for the Orange County Small Claims Division www.occourts.org/self-help/smallclaims/index.html. Once again, be mindful of any statutes of limitations that may apply to your unique case and be sure to file your small claims lawsuit before that statute of limitations expires.
2. File a formal complaint on line with the CA Dental Board: if you believe you were wronged by Drs. Thomas J. Teich and Nadia Abazarnia and the Smile Implant Center you should let the California Dental Board know about this. We were told by the Board that the more complaints they receive about these dentists the morel likely action will be taken and priority will be given. This is very important. Below you will find direct links to the CA Dental Board for filling out a Complaint on line. Please be sure to do this if you believe you have been wronged or cheated by these dentists.
3. Request Your Complete Dental Treatment and Billing Records: Send a written request via Certified, Return Receipt US Mail to. Drs. Thomas J. Teich and Nadia Abazarnia and the Smile Implant Center requesting a complete copy of your dental treatment records and your dental billing records. Include an offer to pay reasonable copying fees. You may also provide the following language with your written request:
NOTICE IS HEREBY PROVIDED that California law states, in pertinent part, as follows:Pursuant to Ca Hlth & Safety Code § 123100 et seq., a health care provider’s current or former patient has the right to inspect and copy any of the patient’s health records on five working days’ written notice. The patient may designate another person or company of his or her choice). [Ca Hlth & S §§ 123110(a)-(c)), 123115(a)]
4. Demand a Refund of Unused Finance Monies: If you obtained financing or credit to pay for dental work that has not been completed, it is very important that you send a written request via Certified, Return Receipt U.S. Mail to Drs. Thomas J. Teich and Nadia Abazarnia and the Smile Implant Center demanding a refund to your lender of any payment these dentists received for treatment that has not been rendered or costs that have not been incurred. Be sure to identify your lender by name and address, your account number and the specific amount to be refunded to your lender and specific work that was not completed. You may include the following language with your demand:
NOTICE: CA Business & Professions Code § 654.3(b) states that: “a dentist shall, within 15 business days of a patient’s request, refund to the lender any payment received through credit extended by a third party that is arranged for or established in a dental office for treatment that has not been rendered or costs that have not been incurred.”
5. Follow up. If you do not receive your dental records within a reasonable time (5 business days), or if they are not made available to you for copying, then contact the CA Dental Board and inform the Board of your written request for your records and the dentist’s failure to comply with that CA law regarding that request. Do the same with regard to your demand for a refund to your financing company pursuant to California B&P § 654.3(b).
6. Write a letter and send an email to both your local California State Senator, and your local California State Assemblyperson explaining what happened to you. If you believe that the CA Dental Board failed you by licensing Dr. Teich to practice dentistry in California, this is the person to whom you should register your complaint. Be sure to explain yourself and your situation and demand an investigation. Here is a link to a website that will tell you who your local legislators are: http://assembly.ca.gov/assemblymembers http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_r.htm
Keep writing until you get a response.
Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. While we have not been able to return every call, we have forwarded the names and phone numbers of most Smile Implant Center patients that have called our office to the California Dental Board’s local investigators Russell Predmore and Teri Lane. But you must do your own follow up. You should contact these investigators directly to make sure your name and phone number is on file with the Dental Board. Mr. Predmore can be reached at (714) 923-9731 or firstname.lastname@example.org. and Teri Lane at (714) 932-9725 or (714) 932-9727 or email@example.com. We are told that the California Dental Board is conducting its investigation but that in order for this matter to receive top priority; aggrieved patients must file a formal complaint on-line with the CA Dental Board. The more complaints on file, the more attention this matter will receive.
Here are the direct internet links to file a complaint with the CA Dental Board:
Complaint form: http://www.dbc.ca.gov/formspubs/form_complaint.pdf
Complaint form instructions: http://www.dbc.ca.gov/consumers/complaint_instructions.shtml
Complaint information page: http://www.dbc.ca.gov/consumers/complaint_info.shtml
Frequently asked questions: http://www.dbc.ca.gov/consumers/consumer_faqs.shtml
For those aggrieved patients who obtained financing for dental work yet to be completed, below is the full text of California’s B&P § 654.3. Check to see if in your particular case, Drs. Teich & Abazarnia and/or Smile Implant Center complied with each and every section of this Code. If they didn’t, report it to the CA Dental Board without delay. Use the on-line links above to register your complaints:
California Business & Professions Code § 654.3. Dentists; prohibited charges to open-end credit extended by third parties; refunds; written notice; written treatment plan; language other than English; patients under the influence; damages;
(a) A dentist, or an employee or agent of a dentist, shall not charge treatment or costs to an open-end credit, that is extended by a third party and that is arranged for or established in a dental office, before the date upon which the treatment is rendered or costs are incurred, without first providing the patient a list of the treatment and services to be rendered, the estimated costs of the treatment and services, and which treatment and services are being charged in advance of rendering or incurring of costs, and ensuring that the patient has received the treatment plan required by subdivision (d).
(b) A dentist shall, within 15 business days of a patient’s request, refund to the lender any payment received through credit extended by a third party that is arranged for or established in a dental office for treatment that has not been rendered or costs that have not been incurred.
(c) A dentist, or an employee or agent of that dentist, shall not arrange for or establish credit extended by a third party for a patient without first providing the following written notice, on one page in at least 14-point type, and obtaining a signature from the patient:
“Credit for Dental Services
The attached application and information is for a credit card/line of credit or loan to help you finance your dental treatment. You should know that:
You are applying for a _____ credit card/line of credit or a _____ loan for $_____.
You do not have to apply for the credit card/line of credit or loan. You may pay your dentist for dental treatment in another manner.
This credit card/line of credit or loan is not a payment plan with the dental office; it is credit with [name of company issuing the credit card/line of credit or loan]. Your dentist does not work for this company.
Before applying for this credit card/line of credit or loan, you have the right to a written treatment plan from your dentist that includes the anticipated treatment to be provided and the estimated costs of each service.
If you are approved for a credit card/line of credit, your dentist can only charge treatment and lab costs to that credit card/line of credit when you get the treatment or the dentist incurs costs unless your dentist has first given you a list of treatments that you are paying for in advance and the cost for each treatment or service.
You have the right to receive a credit to your credit card/line of credit or loan account refunded for any costs charged to the credit card/line of credit or loan for treatment that has not been rendered or costs that your dentist has not incurred. Your dentist must refund the amount of the charges to the lender within 15 business days of your request, after which the lender will credit your account.
Please read carefully the terms and conditions of this credit card/line of credit or loan, including any promotional offers.
You may be required to pay interest on the amount charged to the credit card/line of credit or the amount of the loan. If you miss a payment or do not pay on time, you may have to pay a penalty and/or a higher interest rate.
If you do not pay the money that you owe the company that provides you with a credit card/line of credit or loan, your missed payments can appear on your credit report and could hurt your credit rating. You could also be sued.
(d) A dentist shall give a patient a written treatment plan prior to arranging for or establishing credit extended by a third party. The treatment plan shall include each anticipated service to be provided and the estimated cost of each service. If a patient is covered by a private or government dental benefit plan or dental insurance, from which the dentist takes assignment of benefits, the treatment plan shall indicate the patient’s private or government-estimated share of cost for each service. If the dentist does not take assignment of benefits from a patient’s dental benefit plan or insurance, the treatment plan shall indicate that the treatment may or may not be covered by a patient’s dental benefit or insurance plan, and that the patient has the right to confirm dental benefit or insurance information from the patient’s plan, insurer, or employer before beginning treatment.
(e) A dentist, or an employee or agent of that dentist, shall not arrange for or establish credit extended by a third party for a patient with whom the dentist, or an employee or agent of that dentist, communicates primarily in a language other than English that is one of the Medi-Cal threshold languages, unless the written notice information required by subdivision (c) is also provided in that language.
(f) A dentist, or an employee or agent of that dentist, shall not arrange for or establish credit that is extended by a third party for a patient who has been administered or is under the influence of general anesthesia, conscious sedation, or nitrous oxide.
(g) A patient who suffers any damage as a result of the use or employment by any person of a method, act, or practice that willfully violates this section may seek the relief provided by Chapter 4 (commencing with Section 1780) of Title 1.5 of Part 4 of Division 3 of the Civil Code.
(h) The rights, remedies, and penalties established by this article are cumulative, and shall not supersede the rights, remedies, or penalties established under other laws.
(i) For purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:
(1) “Dentist” includes, but is not limited to, a dental corporation, as defined in Section 1800.
(2) “Open-end credit” means credit extended by a creditor under a plan in which the creditor reasonably contemplates repeated transactions, the creditor may impose a finance charge from time to time on an outstanding unpaid balance, and the amount of credit that may be extended to the debtor during the term of the plan (up to any limit set by the creditor) is generally made available to the extent that any outstanding balance is repaid.
(3) “Patient” includes, but is not limited to, the patient’s parent or other legal representative.
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