According to court documents, Woo, who practices oral surgery in Auburn, liked to joke with a longtime assistant about her pet pig Walter. The assistant adored Walter, and potbellied pigs in general, even going so far as to rescue unwanted pigs and adopt them out to new owners.
Woo, however, was not so enamored and sometimes joked with her about barbecuing Walter. Once, he had his photo taken with some pigs strung up in a shop window and made a point of showing her. Another time, after a hunting trip, he brought in a photo of himself alongside a dead boar.
Woo later said he’d never kill Walter and that the photos were just playful teasing. His lawyer said Woo ran his office more like a family than a dental practice, and that he and the staff, most of whom were longtime employees, were close.
Given that closeness, Woo said he decided to take the boar joke another step in the summer of 1999, when the assistant needed a dental procedure, according to court records. In addition to the temporary replacement teeth, which were ordered two weeks in advance, he also ordered an additional set of teeth made in the shape of tiny boar’s tusks, the kind that curl up at the end.
In court documents, he said he planned to present the assistant with the tusks as a gag gift. But when she decided at the last minute to have full anesthesia, he came up with another plan.
While she was unconscious, he inserted the fake teeth. Other assistants came into the room to help Woo take photos. The photos show the patient and the teeth, with her eyes and mouth propped open by various sets of hands and dental instruments.
Her lawyer later called it a “grotesque and/or ugly piglike state.”
After the patient saw the photos, she broke down crying, left the office and never came back. Unbeknownst to Woo, she had been sexually assaulted as a teen. The boar’s-teeth incident was a different sort of violation, but it brought forth memories of the sexual assault and spurred a case of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a psychologist’s report in the court file.
On Monday, the state Court of Appeals ruled that an insurance company had no obligation to defend dentist Robert Woo, whose idea of a practical joke was to photograph the set of teeth in the mouth of the anesthetized patient. The ruling overturns a jury verdict of $750,000 â€” in favor of the dentist â€” but leaves intact a $250,000 settlement with the patient.
Flap thinks the good dentist should have cut his losses the first time…. and stop trying to be funny!
What a moron!