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Malpractice claim in teen's wisdom teeth death settled out of court

Justice System

A medical malpractice case filed by the parents of a Woodstock teen who died days after being deprived of oxygen during a routine wisdom teeth surgery in Howard County two years ago has been settled out of court, according to court records and an attorney for the girl's parents.

Jennifer Michelle "Jenny" Olenick, a 17-year-old junior at Marriotts Ridge High School, suffered severe brain injury during her surgery March 28, 2011. She went into a coma and died 10 days later. An autopsy report showed she died because of a lack of oxygen to her brain during the surgery.

Her parents, Cathy Garger and John Olenick, filed a civil suit against the anesthesiologist, surgeon and medical practices involved in their daughter's procedure, claiming they had shown negligence in failing to revive her after her heart rate slowed to a dangerous level, cutting oxygen to her brain.

The sides reached a confidential settlement before a scheduled settlement conference March 28, according to James Cardea, the Olenicks' lawyer.

The case was officially closed this week, when it was dismissed under stipulations related to the settlement, according to online court records. The court file has been unavailable for review because it has been in the chambers of Judge Louis Becker, but a clerk for Becker confirmed the dismissal Wednesday.

The conditions and monetary value of the settlement are not public. The civil lawsuit filed by Olenick's parents included five counts claiming negligence and other medical failures. The suit said more than $30,000 was in dispute for each count.

The case was brought in November 2011 against Dr. Krista Michelle Isaacs, the anesthesiologist; Dr. Domenick Coletti, the oral surgeon; Central Maryland Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery PA and Baltimore Washington Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Center LLC, both Columbia practices in which Coletti is a partner; and Safe Sedation LLC, Isaacs' primary practice setting at the time of the procedure.

Garger, Olenick's mother, had expressed a desire to raise awareness about the risks of dental procedures through the lawsuit at the time of its filing. After the filing, she and Olenick's father objected to their daughter's medical records' being made public in court, which defense attorneys had requested.

The defense attorneys had argued Olenick might have had preexisting mental and physical health conditions, including anxiety and stress, that contributed to or caused her death, despite an autopsy finding that she had been a "healthy teenager with no significant medical history" at the time of her death.

Garger said in an email statement that the case "was settled to the satisfaction of all parties," but she declined to comment further.

Isaacs, reached by phone and asked for comment on the settlement, said, "I have thoughts, certainly, but I don't think I'm at liberty to discuss the ultimate outcome."

Isaacs' attorney, Natalie Magdeburger, who also represented Safe Sedation, said in an email that it would be "improper" for her to comment.

Coletti, through an office assistant, declined to comment and directed questions to his attorney, who did not return a request for comment. Attorneys for Coletti's practices did not return requests for comment, either.

Out-of-court settlements in medical malpractice cases are common.

krector@baltsun.com

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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