Dental Infections Spur Legal Claims Against Anaheim and Orange County

Orange County and the City of Anaheim are the targets of impending lawsuits on behalf of dozens of children who contracted a serious bacterial infection after visiting their dental clinic last year. A total of 58 claims have been filed against Anaheim and two against the county -- a necessary precursor to a lawsuit against the city.

According to attorneys representing the families, Anaheim provided Children’s Dental Group with water contaminated by mycobacterium. That water was then used in a number of pediatric pulpotomies, resulting in at least 68 cases of serious dental infection that required hospitalization.

“We have reason to suspect that there is a systemic water issue,” said Daniel Hodes, who represents 15 of the children. “As we investigate that, we needed to protect the statute of limitations. This has been a life-altering event for each and every one of them. More than anything else, they just want answers.”

The city has already denied culpability for the issue with the clinic’s water.

“We have no reason to doubt the Orange County Health Care Agency that the likely source of infection was the dental water system,” said Anaheim spokesman Mike Lyster. “We conduct 44,000 tests each year on water quality. Each week we test our water at more than 50 sites throughout the city; three of these sites are near the Children’s Dental location. None of our tests after the incident or before the incident has indicated an issue with bacteria in the water delivered to the site.”

Last month, the county was also targeted by two legal claims, with attorney Greg Hafif alleging the county “failed to treat the water, prevent the water from being infected, and/or failed to remedy this issue in a timely manner.” Spokeswoman Carrie Braun declined to comment.

A similar outbreak of mycobacteria occurred at a dental clinic in Georgia in 2015. It turned out that the clinic had failed to properly clean the water lines.

Read more about legal claims against Anaheim and Orange County here