KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Three patients have filed a proposed class-action suit against a Knoxville dentist that could involve as many as 8,000 patients.
The suit was filed Thursday in Knox County Circuit Court by Gerald Witt, an investigator in the Knox County Public Defender’s Office, and two others only listed by initials. It seeks $50 million in damages for themselves and approximately 8,000 patients.
The suit was filed against Dr. C.L. “Buzz” Nabers, his practices in downtown and West Knoxville, and his wife.
WATE 6 On Your Side has sought comment from Nabers but has not received a response.
The attorneys who filed the suit on behalf of the three patients are former Knox County Public Defender Mark Stephens and Troy Bowlin.
Nabers was fined $11,000 and had his dental license put on a two-year probationary period after an investigation by the Tennessee Board of Dentistry, according to a disciplinary report.
The state board found Nabers let dental assistants and hygienists perform duties beyond their professional scope for several months, such as filling cavities or inserting permanent veneers, without being present in the office.
It also found that Nabers failed to properly sterilize dental equipment.
Disposable tools were reused after being placed in a cold sterile solution and other equipment was not spore tested regularly to ensure harmful microorganisms had been killed, according to the state board.
Nabers recently sent letters to patients that said because of the sterilization procedures they may want to get tested for HIV, and Hepatitis B and C.
The letter to patients said the questions about sterilization techniques have been addressed.
“Those processes have been revised and corrected. We have no reason to believe any harm has occurred,” the letter reads.
The three patients allege that due to the failure to properly sterilize dental instruments, they may have been exposed to “innumerable infectious diseases, many of which could be incurable and/or fatal.”
The lawsuit said the three patients and the other 8,000 patients who may have been exposed will “undoubtedly suffer extreme emotional distress due to their exposure to infectious diseases,” the lawsuit said.
The proposed class-action lawsuit is just the latest legal problem for Nabers.
Another lawsuit was filed in October by a former dental assistant who alleges her hours were reduced and she was later terminated for refusing to perform dental procedures she was not certified to do and for reporting the misconduct to state.
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