Amalgam and jews



Dental Fillings Targeted in Multiple Lawsuits
By Scott Hogenson Executive Editor
May 27, 2002

(Editor's Note: This is the first in a number of articles exploring
the various legal and scientific aspects of the growing debate on
this issue.)

( - The American Dental Association and various state
dental organizations find themselves squarely in the path of a
swelling wave of litigation over tooth fillings.

The ADA, the largest and oldest dental organization in the nation,
has been named in a variety of individual and class-action lawsuits
in at least four states, charged with numerous transgressions
including alleged fraud and negligence.

At issue is the silver colored amalgam that's filled cavities in the
mouths of millions of Americans and has been used for more than 150
years. Amalgam contains a number of metals including silver, copper,
tin, zinc and mercury, the component that's become the focal point of
the debate.

Mercury is toxic and can cause a variety of neurological and other
health problems in large doses.

Lawsuits filed in California and Georgia claim amalgam used in the
fillings of mothers contributed to autism in their children, and a
Maryland class action suit alleges misrepresentation for references
to the fillings as 'silver,' when mercury comprises as much as 50
percent of some dental amalgam.

Waging War on Dental Amalgam

Leading the charge against the use of amalgam is Shawn Khorrami, a
Los Angeles-area lawyer who's filed various suits against the ADA,
some of its state chapters, and other organizations and companies.

Khorrami said many of his lawsuits have targeted the ADA and its
affiliates because "the associations have a long standing practice of
dealing with amalgam that's been unreasonably deceptive."

"We are trying to get rid of mercury," said Khorrami. "This is the
only industry that advocates the use of mercury."

On his law firm's Internet site, Khorrami notes, "Mercury is
universally recognized as an extremely dangerous toxin. The lawsuits
allege that one filling contains 750 milligrams of mercury, enough to
contaminate a small lake. Mercury amalgam is dangerous before it goes
into the mouth, and it is a hazardous material when it comes out."

While that amount of mercury in a single filling may be accurate
based on the size of a cavity, it does not necessarily constitute the
amount of mercury absorbed by the body at a rate that might raise
concerns among major health organizations and regulatory agencies.

Khorrami also draws aim on the ADA specifically, saying it's "out of
the medical mainstream in claiming that mercury is safe for use in
human beings while the rest of the medical world is eliminating the
use of mercury in all other circumstances."

"The use of this stuff for a hundred and fifty years - tell me
another situation where we're using pre-Civil War medicine," said

Variations on amalgam are thought to have been used in seventh
century China with more contemporary applications dating back to the
early 19th century.

Amalgam has long been promoted by the ADA as an effective and
affordable way of filling cavities, less expensive than other
fillings like porcelain resin or gold. The Food and Drug
Administration and the World Health Organization have also deemed
amalgam safe for use by dentists.

ADA Punches Back

Unlike earlier product liability lawsuits against the tobacco
industry and firearm manufacturers, the ADA is not letting the
pending legal action go unanswered. The group has filed its own
lawsuit against Khorrami, accusing him of defamation.

The ADA argues Khorrami is using the amalgam issue to launch a
"campaign of lies and distortions," to further promote his law

"The statements that he makes are completely false in that he is
aware of the scientific evidence," said Peter Sfikas, chief counsel
for the ADA. "The Food and Drug Administration reaffirmed, as late as
February of this year, there is no valid scientific evidence that has
ever shown that amalgams cause harm to patients with dental

While rhetoric is often included in the legal arguments made in
court, Sfikas said the ADA's complaint revolves not around the legal
arguments but the promotional statements made by Khorrami.

"He's not doing that in a court of law, he's doing it on his own
website for the purpose of obtaining parties to file suit," Sfikas

Khorrami said the ADA lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los
Angeles May 14, will not dissuade him from additional, future
actions, adding, "This has nothing to do with filing actions

As for the ADA's efforts to fight Khorrami and his growing
litigation, the lawyer said he had not been served with the dental
group's suit as of late last week. "If you get up and stand up and
say amalgam is bad, the ADA takes it very personally," said Khorrami.
"This is part of the intimidation tactics of the ADA."

In answering Khorrami's accusations of intimidation, Sfikas said,
"The ADA does not intimidate. The ADA has no tactics. The ADA is a
scientifically-oriented professional association."

Instead, Sfikas said the ADA is simply standing up for itself. "The
reckless statements of Mr. Khorrami, which are also false statements,
injure the reputation of a scientifically based organization."

According to Sfikas, the ADA has long acknowledged the presence of
mercury in silver colored fillings. He said the organization "has
certainly made it very clear in its literature that amalgam fillings
contain mercury."

For the time being, none of the nearly two-dozen lawsuits naming the
ADA has been scheduled for a hearing in any court, Sfikas said. He
added that the ADA hopes to have the cases moved from various state
courts into the federal court system.

Sfikas expects science to loom large in determining which party will
ultimately prevail in the amalgam debate.

Tuesday: Science v. Anecdotes Colors Amalgam Debate

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