TULSA, Okla. (AP) - A judge on Monday dismissed one of several lawsuits against an oral surgeon whose Tulsa-area clinics were shut down earlier this year due to filthy conditions because the plaintiff and her attorney didn't show up in court.
District Judge Rebecca Nightingale dismissed Sharon Fairchilds' lawsuit against Dr. W. Scott Harrington after waiting more than 15 minutes for her and her attorney to arrive.
Fairchilds filed the lawsuit in April on behalf of a minor child, accusing Harrington of allowing two untrained dental assistants to intravenously sedate the child and of practicing dentistry "in an unsafe or unsanitary manner." Her lawsuit was one of several filed against Harrington since state investigators shuttered his clinics in March.
James Colvin, an attorney for Harrington who was at Monday's hearing, refused to comment afterward. Fairchilds' attorney, Steven Hart, didn't immediately respond to a voicemail request for comment.
State health inspectors cited a litany of reasons they shuttered Harrington's clinics in a 17-count complaint. They allegedly found rusty instruments, potentially contaminated drug vials and the improper use of a machine designed to sterilize tools at Harrington's offices.
Health officials urged some 7,000 people who had been treated at Harrington's clinics to get tested for infectious diseases. Of the 4,202 tested who were tested at state clinics, 89 tested positive for hepatitis C, five for hepatitis B and four for HIV, which causes AIDS.
In only one of those cases was it proven that the illness was contracted at a clinic, health officials said. Last month, investigators said Harrington was responsible for the nation's first transmission of hepatitis C between patients in a dental office.
Harrington, who is cooperating with the probe, had been a dentist for 36 years before voluntarily surrendering his license March 20. He faces a January hearing before the state's dental board.
Susan Rogers, the executive director of the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry, told The Associated Press last week that former patients of Harrington are still coming forward and filing complaints with her agency, and that it could take months before it completes its investigation.