We represent many families who will be assisting with criminal charges and pursuing civil claims against Jacksonville Dentist Dr. Howard Schneider. Dr. Schneider has been practicing pediatric dentistry in Jacksonville, Florida for over 40 years. Recently several victims came forward publicly and created a groundswell, and have alleged Dr. Schneider did the following to their children (ages 3-6 years old):
Was physically abusive of patients, including punching them in the chest, bruising their necks and faces, had staff sit on them to restrain them and more;
Doing procedures while children are strapped down without notice to the parents, strapping down patients when not warranted and restricting parents from being in the room with their children;
Was verbally abusive of patients, telling them to shut up, using expletives like “f—k” to them, telling them they better be good or he will use additional force and apparently telling one child she wouldn’t see her mother again if she didn’t be a good girl;
Conducted multiple unnecessary tooth extractions, caps, crowns and other procedures;
Conducted invasive procedures done without the parent’s knowledge or consent or where parents were completely forbidden from going back with their child;
Conducted dental work such as performing fillings, crowns, and extractions done without the use of anesthesia or without letting it to take effect;
Causing unnecessary harm, cuts and damage to children’s tongues, lips and/or gums, including one case where he split the corners of a child’s mouth further open;
Conducted procedures to maximize insurance proceeds to his office, systematically maximizing medicaid billing and often doing unnecessary or extra dental work and other billing violations / insurance billing issues;
And other violations and breaches which are coming out from hundreds and hundreds of former victims over decade.
There are essentially several ways that Dr. Schneider can be criminal and civilly prosecuted.
Possible criminal charges include:
827.03 – Abuse, aggravated abuse, and neglect of a child. This covers an intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child or a caregiver’s failure or omission to provide a child with the care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain the child’s physical and mental health, including, but not limited to, food, nutrition, clothing, shelter, supervision, medicine, and medical services that a prudent person would consider essential for the well-being of the child, among other things.
409.901-409.9205, 817.234 – Medicaid or insurance abuse or fraud. Abuse is when the provider practices that are inconsistent with generally accepted business or medical practices and that result in an unnecessary cost to the Medicaid program or in reimbursement for goods or services that are not medically necessary or that fail to meet professionally recognized standards for health care or where the recipient practices that result in unnecessary cost to the Medicaid program. Fraud is the intentional deception or misrepresentation made by a person with the knowledge that the deception results in unauthorized benefit to herself or himself or another person. The term includes any act that constitutes fraud under applicable federal or state law.
784.011-784.045, 784.05 – Battery, Culpable Negligence.
Possible Administrative Violations include:
In addition to other violations, there are allegations which support the following:
466.028 Grounds for disciplinary action; action by the board.—
(1) The following acts constitute grounds for denial of a license or disciplinary action, as specified in s. 456.072(2):
(l) Making deceptive, untrue, or fraudulent representations in or related to the practice of dentistry.
(m) Failing to keep written dental records and medical history records justifying the course of treatment of the patient including, but not limited to, patient histories, examination results, test results, and X rays, if taken.
(n) Failing to make available to a patient or client, or to her or his legal representative or to the department if authorized in writing by the patient, copies of documents in the possession or under control of the licensee which relate to the patient or client.
(o) Performing professional services which have not been duly authorized by the patient or client, or her or his legal representative, except as provided in ss. 766.103 and 768.13.
(s) Being unable to practice her or his profession with reasonable skill and safety to patients by reason of illness or use of alcohol, drugs, narcotics, chemicals, or any other type of material or as a result of any mental or physical condition. In enforcing this paragraph, the department shall have, upon a finding of the State Surgeon General or her or his designee that probable cause exists to believe that the licensee is unable to practice dentistry or dental hygiene because of the reasons stated in this paragraph, the authority to issue an order to compel a licensee to submit to a mental or physical examination by physicians designated by the department. If the licensee refuses to comply with such order, the department’s order directing such examination may be enforced by filing a petition for enforcement in the circuit court where the licensee resides or does business. The licensee against whom the petition is filed shall not be named or identified by initials in any public court records or documents, and the proceedings shall be closed to the public. The department shall be entitled to the summary procedure provided in s. 51.011. A licensee affected under this paragraph shall at reasonable intervals be afforded an opportunity to demonstrate that she or he can resume the competent practice of her or his profession with reasonable skill and safety to patients.
(t) Fraud, deceit, or misconduct in the practice of dentistry or dental hygiene.
(u) Failure to provide and maintain reasonable sanitary facilities and conditions.
(x) Being guilty of incompetence or negligence by failing to meet the minimum standards of performance in diagnosis and treatment when measured against generally prevailing peer performance, including, but not limited to, the undertaking of diagnosis and treatment for which the dentist is not qualified by training or experience or being guilty of dental malpractice. For purposes of this paragraph, it shall be legally presumed that a dentist is not guilty of incompetence or negligence by declining to treat an individual if, in the dentist’s professional judgment, the dentist or a member of her or his clinical staff is not qualified by training and experience, or the dentist’s treatment facility is not clinically satisfactory or properly equipped to treat the unique characteristics and health status of the dental patient, provided the dentist refers the patient to a qualified dentist or facility for appropriate treatment. As used in this paragraph, “dental malpractice” includes, but is not limited to, three or more claims within the previous 5-year period which resulted in indemnity being paid, or any single indemnity paid in excess of $25,000 in a judgment or settlement, as a result of negligent conduct on the part of the dentist.
Finally, civil claims can include:
Intentional torts based on abuse to a minor, professional negligence / medical malpractice, civil battery or assault, false arrest or inappropriate restraint, as well as various forms of fraud, theft and conversion.
The medical malpractice statutes, Chapter 766 of the Florida Statutes, imposes strict pre-suit notice and screening requirements for medical negligence claims. The Florida Supreme Court has read the two definitions of “medical negligence” found in 766.106 and 766.202 together, and concluded that medical negligence claims are claims that arise out of the rendering of, or the failure to render, medical care or services. While the courts have carved out exceptions of sexual battery as not apart of the rendering of medical services, any injury or harm that comes during the rendering of professional services comes under the medical malpractice act.
Further, in Paulk v. National Medical Enters., 679 So. 2d 1289, 1996 Fla. App. LEXIS 10045, 21 Fla. L. Weekly D 2105 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist. 1996), allegations that the defendants defrauded their patients by extending their hospitalization, without medical necessity, so that they could exhaust available insurance coverage, were held to be subject to medical malpractice law as well.
The test for determining whether a defendant is entitled to the benefit of the pre-suit screening requirements of section 766.106(1), Florida Statutes (1989), is whether the defendant is directly or vicariously liable under the medical negligence standard of care set forth in section 766.102(1). Weinstock v. Groth, 629 So. 2d 835 (Fla. 1993) (citing NME Properties, Inc. v. McCullough, 590 So. 2d 439 (Fla. 2d DCA 1991)). Under section 766.106(1)(a), a “claim for medical malpractice” is defined as “a claim arising out of the rendering of, or the failure to render, medical care or services.” The term “medical negligence” is defined in section 766.202(6) to mean “medical malpractice, whether grounded in tort or in contract.”
Further, the courts have said, “Under section 766.202(6), we don’t think it much matters whether the plaintiffs’ claim is framed as an intentional tort or instead as negligence. The legislature was aware of the historical development of the tort. One early theoretical underpinning of claims for medical malpractice was the intentional torts of assault and battery–the departure from the standard of care constituted an unconsented touching of the patient’s body. See, e.g., Pratt v. Davis, 224 Ill. 300, 79 N.E. 562 (1906) (damages for surgery to remove patient’s ovaries without her consent affirmed on theory of trespass 2Link to the text of the note to patient’s body); Birnbaum v. Siegler, 76 N.Y.S. 2d 173, 273 A.D. 817 (1948) (consent to surgery obtained by fraud invalid; surgery so performed constitutes assault on patient).” Paulk v. National Medical Enters., 679 So. 2d 1289, 1996 Fla. App. LEXIS 10045, 21 Fla. L. Weekly D 2105 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist. 1996).
We hope all of the victims will consult with a professional medical malpractice lawyer.