The family of an Eden Prairie teen who went into cardiac arrest during a dental surgery in 2015 and later died has reached a $2.06 million settlement with the oral surgeon who performed the procedure.
In January, the family of Sydney Galleger filed a medical malpractice/wrongful death lawsuit in Hennepin County District Court that alleged that Paul Tompach’s “departures from the standard of care” caused the death of the 17-year-old teen after she had gone to Edina Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery for a wisdom teeth extraction surgery.
“It was clear that this should have never happened in the way that it did. This young woman should never have died,” said Kathleen Flynn Peterson, the attorney for Sydney’s parents, Diane and Steve Galleger.
Tompach’s attorney, Richard Lind, could not be reached for comment.
Under the settlement terms, Diane and Steve Galleger will get $1.279,600; the law firm representing them will receive $740,000 and the Gallegers’ insurer will be paid $40,400, according to the order approving the distribution of wrongful death proceeds. The case had been scheduled for trial in May 2018 before the settlement was approved Nov. 22.
As an Eden Prairie High School student, Sydney lettered two years in synchronized swimming, three years in alpine skiing and four years in diving. She was voted captain of the dive team for her senior year. She was a member of DECA and the Westlakes chapter of the National Charity League where she had also served as class president.
Sydney died in 2015 after complications from the surgery. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner said Sydney died from anoxic encephalopathy (brain damage from a lack of oxygen) due to cardiac arrest that occurred during the June 9, 2015, dental surgery she was having.
She died on June 15, 2015, at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. The manner of death was listed as “undetermined, as the potential contribution role of medication administered during the surgical procedure could not be excluded,” the Medical Examiner said.
The January lawsuit alleged Tompach departed from accepted standards of medical practice by inappropriately administering general anesthesia; providing inadequate monitoring during the surgery; allowing untrained dental assistants to monitor Sydney; neglecting to plan for a possible medical emergency; failing to appropriately and quickly respond to the medical emergency and deciding not to advise Sydney and her parents of the risks associated with general anesthesia.
The Minnesota Board of Dentistry temporarily suspended Tompach’s license in January 2016. In March 2016 the board issued an order that rescinded the previous order and stayed the suspension, meaning that Tompach could continue to practice as long as he met several conditions.
Sydney’s parents retained Robins Kaplan LLP in July 2016 to investigate a claim for a wrongful death. The firm conducted an investigation and notified the potential defendants that it believed the Gallegers’ claim had merit, according to the settlement order. The January lawsuit was filed by the Gallegers’ attorney after a failed pre-suit mediation.
According to the order, the defendants offered the $2.06 million settlement with the court’s assistance and after lengthy negotiations. The Gallegers were advised if the matter went to trial a verdict in excess of the settlement could be rendered, the case could be lost or a verdict could be rendered for damages less than the settlement.
The Gallegers “concluded that the settlement was fair and reasonable, and that it was therefore in the best interest of the next-of-kin of Sydney Galleger to accept this offer of settlement and release the defendant,” the order says.