Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against ADA and State Dental Association in Maryland

Press Releases: 02.21.02

(Baltimore, MD, Feb. 21, 2002) A class action lawsuit was filed today in State Court against The American Dental Association and the Maryland State Dental Association for actively misrepresenting and deceiving consumers about the high levels of mercury used in dental fillings. Mercury, a highly toxic substance, is the most widely used substance in dental fillings today. The case charges that the ADA and MSDA misrepresent amalgam dental fillings as "silver," when in fact such fillings contain approximately 50% mercury by weight, thereby posing substantial health risks to certain users. Additionally, the lawsuit charges that the Defendants prevented legally mandated warnings regarding mercury and mercury exposure from amalgam fillings from getting to consumers. The complaint was filed on behalf of plaintiff Lisa Hogan, a Maryland resident who suffered symptoms from mercury dental fillings. After having all her mercury fillings removed, her symptoms subsided. 

Brought by the Law offices of Shawn Khorrami, Swankin & Turner, and The Erwin Law Firm, the case charges that the ADA and MSDA are in violation of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act for engaging in fraudulent and deceptive business practices, and for committing fraud against the citizens of Maryland. 

"Each filling has 750,000 micrograms of mercury. A person with four fillings has three grams of mercury in his or her mouth, enough to shut down a lake, a school, or a business," said Dr. Boyd E. Haley, Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Kentucky and an expert in the study of the dangers of mercury to human health. "Mercury amalgam is dangerous before it goes into the mouth, and it is a hazardous material when it comes out. I am aware of no other situation today where grams of mercury are implanted in any human being. In fact, in the healthcare industry, mercury has been all but banned." 

Manufacturers of dental amalgam actually include warnings that mercury amalgam fillings should not be placed into patients with known allergies to mercury, in patients with severe renal deficiency, in children six years of age or lower, or in expectant or nursing mothers. 

Neurotoxicity symptoms associated with mercury and mercury compounds include, but are not limited to, impaired vision, speech, hearing and walking; sensory disturbances; incoordination of movements; nervous system damage, very similar to congenital cerebral palsy; mental disturbances; psychomotor retardation, chronic inflammation of mouth and gums, personality change, nervousness, fever or rash. Exposure to mercury impairs the brain and nervous system from developing normally in fetuses. 

The scientific evidence regarding the potential hazards of mercury dental fillings is extensive and conclusive. (See sample research citings in the accompanying document.) The United States Public Health Service and a significant number of dentists believe that mercury fillings may be dangerous, at least for certain vulnerable populations. 

The defendants, however, have undertaken a policy and practice of actively suppressing legitimate scientific research regarding the potential hazards of amalgam fillings, and have prevented such information and proper health warnings from reaching Maryland consumers, Plaintiffs, and members of the Plaintiffs' class. The defendant ADA's failure to disclose are omissions of material fact. 

The "Gag" order. One of the ways in which Defendants have attempted to suppress the health hazards of mercury fillings have been through the ADA's so-called "Code of Ethics." Their ethical rule acts as a "gag order" preventing dentists from even discussing the potential toxicity of mercury fillings with their patients. The rule has a widespread chilling effect because dentists risk being disciplined by defendant MSDA for discussing the mercury controversy with their patients. As a result, plaintiffs and other Maryland consumers do not receive the warnings included by manufacturers of amalgam with their product. 

In papers filed in California Superior Court for the deception/fraud cases brought against the American Dental Association and their California affiliate, Dr. Boyd Haley states:
"The CDA's position that 'no valid scientific evidence exists that dental amalgam poses any health risk ­ other than rare, localized allergic reactions,' is indefensible. A plethora of peer reviewed, published, scientific studies and articles completely refute this point. Frankly, outside of the Journal of the American Dental Association or JADA, the ADA's trade journal, which is not a refereed scientific journal, but solely a trade journal, scientific consensus is completely contrary to the CDA's position. The fact is that there are no solid, refereed publications showing that mercury is not emitted from dental amalgams. On the contrary, there are several showing significant emissions of mercury from dental amalgams." 

When scientifically analyzed, amalgam fillings represent nothing more than a con on the U.S. population, orchestrated by the American Dental Association and its web of constituent associations and component societies says Shawn Khorrami, the lead attorney in the Maryland class action suit and a group of mercury-related cases in California, including the aforementioned deception/fraud class cases currently in litigation in California. "When called to task in the courts, the ADA has engaged in what has become an ADA tradition of legal maneuvering in order to avoid facing the scientific facts of mercury amalgam toxicity" says Khorrami.

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