In July 2016, an Alaskan dentist named Seth Lookhart extracted his patient’s tooth while standing on a hoverboard. After the procedure, he pulled off his gloves, glided down the hall, and threw his hands in the air in a show of (very misguided) triumph. He then texted a video of the whole affair to his friends and family, joking in at least one conversation that it was a “new standard of care.”
He’s getting prosecuted.
But it wasn’t the patient who took him to court—according to CNN, Veronica Wilhelm was sedated for the extraction, and she didn’t even know about the hoverboard incident until the state of Alaska asked her to confirm she was the patient in the video. Alaska charged [PDF] Lookhart with “unlawful dental acts,” claiming that riding a hoverboard during a procedure violates the minimum professional standards of dentistry.
Though Lookhart pleaded not guilty, his defense attorney, Paul Stockler, isn’t arguing that what his client did was fine. On the contrary, he asserted in court that Lookhart had made a “terrible lapse in judgment,” and even apologized to Wilhelm for it.
“It’s unacceptable and be assured that when I agreed to represent him, I got in his face and told him what I thought about him for doing this,” he said while cross-examining Wilhelm, according to KTUU.
Stockler maintains that however ill-advised Lookhart’s behavior may have been, it wasn’t criminal.
“Should he lose his dental license for a period of time, for forever? Is it a crime?” Stockler told CNN. “He’s not the first person to do something idiotic. I’ve seen things a lot worse and nobody’s ever had criminal charges filed against them. As the law is written, I don’t believe that’s a crime.”
It’s up to the court to decide if pulling a tooth on a hoverboard without getting permission from the patient does actually qualify as a crime. And according to KTUU, Wilhelm wouldn’t have given permission had she gotten the chance.
“I would’ve said ‘Hell no!’ No, that’s unprofessional. It’s crazy,” she said in court.
Even if Lookhart eludes conviction on this particular issue, he’s also facing more than 40 other charges. According to CNN, these include billing Medicaid for more than $25,000 in unnecessary or not properly justified procedures; engaging in a scheme to defraud Alaska Medicaid of $10,000; and diverting more than $25,000 in funds from Alaska Dental Arts.
Whatever the verdict, we should find out soon. The trial, which started on November 12, is expected to wrap up this week.