East Hawaii News

Hilo Dentist Sued by Family of Patient in Coma

May 1, 2014, 3:29 PM HST
* Updated May 1, 3:36 PM
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The family of Kristen Nicole Tavares, the Hilo woman who suffered cardiac arrest and fell into a coma while having wisdom teeth extracted in March, has filed a lawsuit against the dentist who conducted the procedure.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in Circuit Court in Hilo against Dr. John Stover and his business, Hilo Oral and Facial Surgery, on behalf of Tavares’ parents, Joseph Tavares Jr. and Diana Pulgados.

Rick Fried, the Honolulu attorney representing the Tavares family, said the parents have left their jobs to be with their daughter, who remains in a coma at Maui Memorial Medical Center.

The lawsuit accuses Stover of negligence and failing to have the knowledge, training or procedures in place for anesthesia-related emergencies.

It seeks unspecified general, special and punitive damages, as well as attorneys’ fees.


Tavares, who recently turned 24, has two sons, a 4½-year-old and a 3-month old.


Stover, who is also a dental surgeon, last month shuttered his practice, which included offices in Hilo, Waimea and Kona.

At that time, 12 complaints against Stover had been filed with the Regulated Industries Complaints Office of the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, including two from 2012, three from 2013 and seven from 2014.

Since then an additional four have been filed, raising the total to 16.


Although in some of the complaints a tentative settlement agreement has been filed, the RICO website does not provide details on complaints that are still pending.

Stover’s Hilo office was picketed in late March by about two dozen protesters carrying signs urging state regulators to close Stover down.

Fried is also representing the family of a 3-year-old girl who died after falling into a coma in the office of a Kailua, Oahu dentist in December.

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