Another patient files suit against Dr. Stover

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A Hilo man has filed a malpractice suit against a former Big Island dentist and plastic surgeon who surrendered his medical license to the state last year amid numerous complaints about him.

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A Hilo man has filed a malpractice suit against a former Big Island dentist and plastic surgeon who surrendered his medical license to the state last year amid numerous complaints about him.

The lawsuit against Dr. John D. Stover was filed May 25 in Hilo Circuit Court by Honolulu attorneys Michael Jay Green and Glenn H. Uesugi on behalf of Herman van Velzer. It seeks unspecified general, special and punitive damages for alleged malpractice, negligence, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, battery and defamation, slander and/or libel.

The suit alleges that on May 21, 2012, Stover walked out on outpatient surgery to repair a condition that caused both of van Velzer’s upper eyelids to droop after learning from a staff member van Velzer’s VA or Medicare insurance wouldn’t cover the procedure for both eyes. The suit claims Stover told van Velzer he would only do the surgery on one eye after Stover had already cut into both eyelids.

According to the filing, van Velzer asked Stover why the operation was started on both eyes before insurance approval was granted, and Stover became angry, accused van Velzer of being disrespectful and left the operating room. The suit also claims van Velzer offered to pay for the non-covered portion of the surgery with his credit card but Stover refused to continue the procedure.

“My client said, ‘Hey, I’m willing to pay cash. Don’t leave me like this. Right? Don’t just walk out,’” Uesugi said Wednesday. And he (Stover) said, ‘No, you have a bad attitude.’ And then he just walked out, basically, and just left him like that.”

Uesugi said the suit against Stover was filed after about a year of mediation involving the Medical Inquiry and Conciliation Panel, part of the state’s Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. Uesugi said he filed the suit to “preserve the statute of limitations in the case” and hopes the lawsuit can be “settled amicably and confidentially.”

The suit also claims Stover wrote a false report to Dr. Rick Carpenter, the Hilo opthamologist who referred van Velzer to Stover, claiming: “The patient became combative, cursing, threatening and dangerous for our office. The procedure was aborted. The patient was asked to leave.” The complaint alleges Stover advised van Velzer that if he returned, the police would be called to remove van Velzer from Stover’s office.

Uesugi said van Velzer had also filed a complaint against Stover, who had offices in Hilo, Kona and Waimea, with the state’s Regulated Industries Complaints Office. A search Wednesday indicates 41 such complaints against Stover, whose license to practice in Hawaii was revoked May 8, 2014.

“There were a lot of people who filed claims against him, not only our client,” Uesugi said.

Stover’s problems became public after Kristen Tavares, an otherwise healthy 23-year-old mother of two went into cardiac arrest in Stover’s Hilo office on March 17, 2014, while in the process of having all four wisdom teeth extracted. Tavares was hospitalized for several months before being brought home. She remains in an unresponsive, semi-comatose state. Green’s office is also representing them in their claim against Stover.

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At least three other lawsuits are pending against Stover, including one filed by the family of Curtis Wagasky, a 52-year-old homeless, disabled veteran who died Dec. 21, 2012, three days after having a tooth extracted by Stover in Kona. Wagasky had reportedly experienced prior health problems.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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