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Tampa dental practice accused of overcharging for service not performed

TAMPA — Evelyn Goff, 79, hoped to get inexpensive dental care and a new set of dentures at Oceanside Dental.

But she and her daughter left with $8,500 in charges and no new dentures, according to a lawsuit.

In a complaint filed this month against a dentist and the dental practice, Brenda Goff, 54, claims that she and her mother faced hours of high-pressure sales pitches.

On April 2, 2008, employees convinced Brenda Goff to pay for a plastic partial denture for $8,500 for her mother. At the time, they told her that a full denture would cost $20,000, she said.

"They were overcharging us for what they were going to do and I didn't realize it. I was stupid enough to go in and sign the paperwork," she said.

Her mother never received the new partial denture, Brenda Goff said.

The dentist, Mamathma Veeramachaneni, no longer works there and could not be reached for comment.

Practice operator Joseph Robbio said he wasn't in the day the Goffs came to Oceanside Dental.

"As far as I know the work was done," he said.

On April 3, 2008, Brenda Goff called the practice to complain about the $8,500 charges on her credit card. Staff agreed to remove them, the suit says.

Then she successfully disputed the charges with her credit card company, she said. But on July 23, 2008, the charges returned, the suit alleges.

Goff says her mother eventually went to a different dentist and paid $4,000 to get "a wonderful set of teeth."

The Goffs have not been the only clients to take issue with charges from Oceanside Dental.

Ralph Lanteri won a default judgment in a lawsuit against the practice, records show. The court awarded him $448.75 plus interest. In an interview, he said Oceanside overcharged him for having two molars pulled. He called it a "huge inconvenience."

The West Florida Better Business Bureau reports 13 complaints against the practice in three years. The Florida Department of State's Division of Corporations lists Robbio as the president, director and treasurer of JX Marketing, which does business as Oceanside Dental.

JX Marketing, Robbio and dentist Veeramachaneni are named as defendants. Robbio has faced allegations in the past.

In 2010, the Massachusetts Attorney General filed a lawsuit that said Robbio was part of a Massachusetts "unlawful dental treatment and financing scheme" that "lured patients to practices with deceptive marketing" and "used unfair, coercive and high-pressure sales tactics to induce patients to agree to costly dental treatment plans on the day of their first visits."

He was one of 15 individuals and corporations named, among them, JX Marketing.

A default judgment is expected to be entered against him and the court will assess damages after the remaining defendants have been tried, said Amie Breton, deputy press secretary for the Massachusetts attorney general. Default judgments often occur when defendants fail to defend themselves or file necessary paperwork.

Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Eric P. Newcomer can be reached at (813) 226-3401 or at enewcomer@sptimes.com.

Tampa dental practice accused of overcharging for service not performed 07/29/11 [Last modified: Friday, July 29, 2011 11:53pm]
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