The family whose teenage daughter died after having wisdom teeth removed reached a $2 million settlement with the onetime Edina oral surgeon who performed the procedure and now does similar work as an instructor at the University of Minnesota.
Dr. Paul Tompach, who temporarily had his right to practice suspended and now teaches at the University of Minnesota, and the family of Sydney Galleger settled the lawsuit late last month.
The medical malpractice suit, filed in Hennepin County District Court in January, alleged Tompach's "negligent and dangerous" actions on June 9, 2015, during the procedure led to the death days later of Galleger, 17, of Eden Prairie.
Galleger's family alleged Tompach incorrectly administered general anesthesia and failed to provide proper monitoring during the surgery. An autopsy found that Galleger died from oxygen being denied to the brain due to cardiac arrest.
Under terms of the settlement, parents Diane and Steven Galleger will get $1,279,600, the law firm representing them gets $740,000 and the family's health insurer receives $40,400 for medical expenses related to the death.
The Gallegers not only felt that the $2.06 million was a "fair and reasonable" amount, according to the settlement filing, it also was the maximum that Tompach's malpractice insurance could have paid out.
"I'm absolutely convinced that [Sydney] didn't have to die the way she did," attorney Kathleen Peterson said Monday on behalf of the Gallegers. "No amount of money ever replaces a child."
Peterson said that suing the doctor "gave the family a better understanding of how the death of their daughter came about. ... They had the courage in a difficult situation to seek the truth about why their daughter died."
In many settlements like these, the details of the agreement are kept confidential. Peterson said, "I believe it is against public policy" to hide such specifics. "Cases that are settled confidentially, [that's] just not right."
On July 3, Tompach, 54, joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota's School of Dentistry as a part-time clinical assistant professor. His practice's website no longer is live, and its phone number is out of order.
The U hired him a few days after the state lifted the final restrictions on his license, said Erin McHenry, a spokeswoman for the university's Academic Health Center. "He teaches oral surgery to residents and supervises oral surgeries," McHenry said. She added on Tuesday that he also performs dental prodecures at the university.
As for hiring someone while wrongful-death litigation was pending, McHenry said, "The credentials and training of candidates are reviewed and evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Dr. Tompach is a highly trained surgeon with a strong academic background."
Tompach and his attorney did not accept interview requests for this report.
After being sued, Tompach and his Edina Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery practice "vigorously defended the case," the settlement filing read.
Tompach's license was suspended in January 2016 after the death of the Eden Prairie High School junior, a diver on the swim team and Alpine skier. The license was then restored with restrictions in place about six weeks later by the Board of Dentistry. The restrictions were lifted in late June 2017.
The suit's allegations about what Tompach did wrong during surgery in his France Avenue office mirrored much of what the state board investigation determined ahead of restrictions that barred him from administering general anesthesia or sedation. However, he was allowed to contract with others for those services.
Board of Dentistry records show no other disciplinary actions in Minnesota against Tompach, who also performed Botox injections and other cosmetic procedures in his practice. He did settle a malpractice suit in 1999 involving the removal of a patient's teeth.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482