Dentist Who Implanted Boar's Tusks in a Woman's Mouth While She Was Unconscious Gets Sued - But Wins Big In Court
In Auburn, Washington there lives a dentist with a very strange sense of humor. He's laughing all the way to the bank over an elaborate practical joke he played on one of his employees.
Dr. Robert Woo, an oral surgeon, took the opportunity to implant fake boar's tusks in Tina Albert's mouth while she was under anesthesia. Albert worked for him at the time and did not find it amusing, especially when photos of her with the boar's tusks were circulating. She quit and later sued Dr. Woo. Fireman's Fund, who insured Woo at the time, decided that they would not deal with the case. Woo ended up paying Tina Albert $250,000 in an out of court settlement, but then sued Fireman's Fund. It worked out great for Woo, because a Superior Court judge sided with him and ordered Fireman's Fund to pay him $750,000 plus reimburse him the $250,000 that he paid out to settle with Albert. Woo was also awarded attorney's fees.
Of course, Fireman's Fund appealed the decision and the case went to the Court of Appeals. The court of appeals sided with Fireman's Fund and agreed that the prank had nothing to do with Woo's dental practice and therefore would not be covered by his policy.
Later, the Supreme Court restored the original judgment in a 5-4 ruling.
The court cited the slightly humorous backstory, of the case as well as details of how Woo pulled off the prank in its opinion.
It seems that Albert's family raises potbelly pigs. For the five years that she worked with Woo she talked about the pigs all the time. Woo had made offensive comments to Albert about the pigs, but said that his prank was just part of a friendly working environment that he tried to promote in the office.
When Albert was undergoing dental surgery to have two teeth replaced with implants, Woo put his elaborate prank in motion. He had shaped some temporary bridges to look like boar's tusks and he installed these in Albert's mouth while she was unconscious. He took pictures of her and even propped her eyes open for some of the shots. Before she woke up he removed the tusks and put in the teeth that Albert was expecting.
Woo said he never showed Albert the pictures because he thought they looked hideous. At her birthday party Albert received a shocking surprise when her co-workers presented her with the photos. Albert got so upset that she left work and never returned. Woo never dreamed she would become that upset over the practical joke. He tried to apologize but Albert would not accept his apology.
Shortly after she became painfully aware of the prank she sued Woo alleging battery, outrage and invasion of privacy among other things. Fireman's Fund refused to represent him in the lawsuit because the prank was intentional and not something that happened within the normal course of business at the dental office.
I guess it was a funny joke. After all, Woo is still laughing. However, it's doubtful that Fireman's Fund or Tina Albert see the humor in his profits.