Legal problems continue to mount for local dentist

By Joe Tash

Contributor

A Rancho Santa Fe man who surrendered his dental license last summer following an investigation by the state dental board faces more legal problems, as a dozen malpractice lawsuits filed by former patients remain pending in San Diego Superior Court.

Shervin Erfani, who lives in the Bridges with his wife, Dana Al-Kasmi, also a dentist, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in federal court on March 18. According to the bankruptcy petition, the couple has $1.249 million in assets, including their $1.2 million home, and $2.663 million in liabilities.

Erfani and Al-Kasmi have three children, ranging in age from 18 months to 6 years, and their only income is a monthly disability insurance check received by Erfani, according to the court filing. "Debtor (Erfani) has been diagnosed with a rare heart condition and may never be able to work again," said the document.

The dental board Web site shows that Al-Kasmi's dental license is current and lists no disciplinary actions.

Until October 2008, Erfani ran a dental practice on Garden View Road in Encinitas, which has since been taken over by another dentist, Al Fallah.

Former patients of Erfani have alleged that he performed expensive, unnecessary dental work that caused more problems than it solved, and that his work was done improperly, requiring follow-up care and corrective action by other dentists.

Delina Robair, a teacher at Nativity Catholic School in Rancho Santa Fe, said she went to Erfani after receiving a brochure in the mail touting the benefits of a brilliant smile. She ended up paying $65,000 for a complete reconstruction that included the installation of porcelain caps on all of her teeth.

Recently, she said, she went to see Fallah, who took X-rays of her teeth and told her that because much of the work had been improperly done, she faces at least $10,000 in restorative work.

"I almost fainted," when learning of the problems, said Robair, who had sold a property she owned to pay Erfani for the work. "Now I'm going to have to be in debt. I'm going to have to take a loan out to do this. I don't have any more apartments to sell.

Erfani could not be reached for comment, and Fallah, citing advice from attorneys, declined to be interviewed for this story.

"I thought he was very charming, honest, smart, well-educated, intelligent. He told all of our patients as well as all of us team members who worked there that we were family, and to treat our patients like family," said Katherine Murphy, who worked for Erfani as office manager and also received dental treatment from her boss.

John Michael Taylor, an Encinitas attorney, represents 11 clients with pending cases in Superior Court, all alleging dental malpractice by Erfani. Another attorney is handling a 12th case, and Taylor said he has already settled three malpractice lawsuits against Erfani. (Neither Robair nor Murphy has sued Erfani.)

Former patients reported paying Erfani from $20,000 to $100,000 for his services, Taylor said.

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