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Dentist in AIDS Case Accused of Using False Names

December 29, 1990

FORT PIERCE, Fla. (AP) _ A dentist gave a false name and occupation to doctors treating him for AIDS, contends a lawyer for a woman who says she contracted the deadly disease from him during dental surgery.

Attorney David Eaton, who represents 22-year-old Kimberly Bergalis, made the allegation Friday during a hearing in her suit against CIGNA Dental Health of Florida Inc.

The insurer put the late Dr. David Acer on its list of preferred dentists to be used by the company’s clients. Bergalis claims Acer transmitted the disease to her during a September 1987 visit in which he removed two of her wisdom teeth.

″One defense being raised is that Acer was told he could continue treating patients,″ Eaton said.

But Eaton said Acer, who died Sept. 1, didn’t even tell the doctors treating him his real name.

″He said he was David Johnson, a real estate developer, so there’s no way a doctor could have told him it was OK to continue treating patients,″ Eaton said.

The dentist died two days after he wrote a letter to former patients urging them to be tested for AIDS, but expressing doubts they could have caught the disease from him.

″I consulted medical experts on whether I should continue practicing dentistry,″ Acer said in the letter. ″The experts advised me that as long as I followed the guidelines promulgated by the Center for Disease Control ... that I could safely continue to practice as a dentist and that I would not infect my patients.″

Continental National America Insurance Co. carried Acer’s $1 million dental malpractice policy, which is the only asset of Acer’s estate.

Attorneys for both sides were in St. Lucie County Circuit Court on Friday for a hearing on whether Bergalis’ attorneys are entitled to examine Acer’s medical records from the Veterans Administration Hospital in Miami.

Attorney Dennis Vandenberg, representing CNA, said Acer’s parents don’t want their son’s family history and names of social contacts turned over to Eaton.

Circuit Judge Robert Makemson gave the VA until Jan. 11 to turn over all medical records, including Acer’s family and social history.

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