The daughter of a Santa Fe man who died in March is suing local dentist Esmael Valdez, claiming the proprietor of Divine Dental of Santa Fe Inc. created a $21,000 treatment plan for her ailing father just weeks before his death, had the elderly man pay for the proposed work in advance and is refusing to return the money though her father never received the dental work.
Rina Mooney said in her complaint filed Wednesday in state District Court that Valdez should have known her father, Alfred Mooney, was not a candidate for extensive dental work because of his advanced age and poor health and never should have accepted the money or made the plan.
“At the time of the appointment, Mr. Mooney was in severe ill-health,” Mooney said in her complaint. “He was an elderly man. He was frail, infirm and weak.”
Valdez said Friday that Alfred Mooney had been a patient of his for years. He said Mooney had obtained upper jaw dental implants from him previously, had six teeth in his lower jaw that were infected and in need of removal, and had said he wanted to replace those with dental implants as well.
Valdez said Alfred Mooney came in for consultations for the dental work several months before he died — of heart disease at the age of 84, according to his daughter’s lawyer — and any dentist would have agreed the infected teeth needed to come out.
Valdez said the fact that the teeth were never removed could have contributed to Alfred Mooney’s poor health and eventual demise.
Valdez said he had already begun work, such as ordering the implants to be created by a dental lab, before his patient died, and had incurred about $5,000 to $7,000 worth of expenses related to the planned treatment.
Valdez said he agreed to refund a portion of the money — about $13,000 — according to the complaint, but after Alfred Mooney died, there was confusion as to which one of his children should receive the refund.
“I can’t just give it to anyone,” he said Friday.
Rina Mooney’s attorney, Daniel O’Friel, said Friday he didn’t want litigate the case in the media but that Alfred Mooney’s estate has been settled and Rina Mooney had been named personal representative of his estate. He said there should be no confusion about who should receive the refund.