A Halifax law firm has filed a proposed class action lawsuit against a prominent Halifax-area dentist whose licence was suspended in November after several allegations of misconduct.
MacGillivray Injury and Insurance Law said they filed a statement of claim Thursday with the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia alleging that Dr. Errol Gaum, a dentist at the Granville Dental Clinic in Bedford, N.S. “used substandard and aberrant methods of behavior management for his pediatric dental patients.”
More than 150 people are currently involved in this lawsuit, said the firm. The allegations have not been tested in Court.
The claim states that Gaum’s practice was focused on treating young children. During his procedures, he would use cruel and traumatizing “behavior management techniques,” which the claim says included “slapping in the face, covering mouths with a towel, restraining arms and legs with leather straps, and pushing the needle onto the roof of the mouth.”
One of the plaintiffs, six-year-old Peyton Binder, attended Gaum’s clinic with her grandmother to have two cavities filled on Nov. 10. Peyton is being represented by her father, Ryan Binder.
The claim states that the grandmother was told she had to remain in the waiting room, but soon after began hearing Peyton screaming and crying.
Her father claimed Gaum “wasn’t letting his daughter breathe” because he was holding her nose during the treatment. He also claimed Gaum told his daughter to “shut up” during the appointment.
Since the incident, the statement of claim states that Peyton has not left her father’s side without extreme protests and repeats “please protect me” and “don’t let me get hurt again.”
Another plaintiff, 41-year-old Sunyata Choyce, was treated by Gaum on multiple occasions between 1982 and 1984, and said in the claim that she has developed anxiety due to the dentist’s actions.
Choyce said in the claim that Gaum would routinely tell his assistant to hold her down and that when she called out for her help, Gaum would tell her he would inflict more pain and do more injections if she cried out again.
Gaum would also perform dental work on Choyce’s teeth before the numbing was activated, according to her statement.
The firm said that Gaum has practiced dentistry in Nova Scotia for approximately 50 years, but is currently under suspension for incidents related to the proposed class action claim.
The claim accuses him of assault, battery and professional negligence.
-With files from Alexander Quon and Graeme Benjamin