Posted on Sep 02, 2023

The family of a two-year-old boy, Zion Gastelum, who passed away following a dental procedure in Arizona, filed a lawsuit against the Kool Smiles dental clinic in Yuma. The family alleged that their son’s death could have been averted if the medical staff had taken the proper precautions.

Zion's mother, Veronica Gastelum, took her son to the clinic in December 2017 for dental crowns meant to treat severe cavities.

Subsequent reports indicated that the procedure itself was considered successful by the dental team. However, the lawsuit contends that the clinic did not conduct adequate X-rays or additional examinations to confirm the necessity of the nine dental procedures, including root canals and crowns, performed on the toddler under general anesthesia.

After these extensive procedures, Zion was moved to a separate recovery room, still under the influence of anesthesia. The lawsuit asserts that the medical team left Zion unattended to attend to other patients.

According to the legal complaint, the tragedy unfolded in the recovery room, where Zion was supposed to receive supplemental oxygen. The family claims that the oxygen tank was either empty or malfunctioning. Veronica Gastelum discovered this horrific situation upon entering the room, where she saw that a staff member repeatedly silenced the alarm on her son's heart monitor.

It wasn't until Veronica Gastelum realized that Zion's chest was motionless and he lacked a pulse, that the medical team acted. The young boy was immediately taken to Phoenix Children’s Hospital, where he was diagnosed with brain damage due to oxygen deprivation. He passed away four days later.

Although the medical examiner could not definitively determine the cause of death, the contended that the tragedy was preventable had the clinic followed standard medical procedures.

Pursuing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit After a Loved One Dies After a Dental Procedure

When a routine dental procedure leads to an unthinkable tragedy, families are left grappling with immense pain and unanswered questions. The death of a loved one under such circumstances is often unexpected and devastating. This guide aims to provide you with key insights on how to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit if you find yourself facing this gut-wrenching scenario.

Understanding Wrongful Death Claims

Before moving ahead with legal action, it's crucial to understand what qualifies as a wrongful death claim. In the context of dental procedures, wrongful death occurs when negligent or substandard care results in fatal consequences. These claims can be complex and emotionally draining but are vital for seeking justice and compensation for your loss.

Immediate Steps to Take

Collect Medical Records

Your first step should be to secure all medical records related to the dental procedure. This documentation serves as evidence to establish the chain of events that led to the tragedy.

Contact a Dental Malpractice Attorney

Wrongful death lawsuits require specialized legal expertise. Engage an attorney well-versed in medical malpractice and wrongful death claims to guide you through the legal maze.

Consult with a Dental Expert

Given the medical complexities involved, consulting a dental expert is advisable and required in many states to confirm whether the standard of care was compromised and to pursue a dental malpractice claim. An expert opinion will give your claim credibility and allow you to seek compensation in states like Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

Building Your Case

Establishing Negligence

To succeed in a wrongful death claim, you must prove that the dental clinic or healthcare providers acted negligently. This entails establishing a direct link between the negligence and your loved one's death.

Gathering Evidence

Evidence such as eyewitness testimonies, video footage, and medical records are vital in establishing the clinic's liability. Your attorney will likely employ a medical expert that will thoroughly examine the available evidence and medical records.

Legal Proceedings

Once you have sufficient evidence, your attorney will file a formal complaint against the liable party or parties. This initiates the legal process, which may culminate in a court trial or an out-of-court settlement.

Financial Compensation and Damages

Compensation in wrongful death claims generally includes medical expenses, funeral costs, loss of income, emotional suffering, and more. While no amount of money can replace your loved one, financial security can help you navigate through this trying time.


Pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit after a fatal dental procedure is an arduous journey fraught with legal complexities. But armed with the right information and legal representation, you can navigate the challenging path toward justice and closure. Remember, these lawsuits not only provide compensation but also serve as a deterrent against medical negligence, potentially saving others from facing a similar tragedy.