Patient sues Burlington dentist for malpractice, alleges14 different teeth were damaged | Local News

BURLINGTON — Patrick Keese-Rath had neglected going to the dentist for years. But when he felt a molar break, he knew he could not put it off any longer.

At a friend’s suggestion, he walked into the offices of Dr. J. Charles Mesec, a dentist who has been treating patients in Burlington for more than 30 years.

What transpired next has led to a malpractice lawsuit with thousands of dollars at stake, based on allegations that Mesec bungled Keese-Rath’s treatment involving 14 different teeth.

State records show that Mesec had twice been reprimanded previously by the state licensing board, including an incident of botched patient care and an instance when Mesec was found practicing without a license.

Keese-Rath, 35, of Burlington, said he was surprised to learn of the dentist’s track record, after seeking out another provider to undo the mistakes that he believes Mesec made on his teeth.

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“I didn’t think you could get screwed over by a dentist,” Keese-Rath said. “I thought they all were good guys.”

Read the lawsuit against the dentist

Mesec, the proprietor of Burlington Family & Laser Dentistry, 240 N. Main St., could not be reached for comment.

Mesec and his co-defendant insurance companies are denying the allegations in the malpractice suit, which Keese-Rath filed this summer seeking at least $15,000 in damages.

The defendants have asserted in court that Keese-Rath himself might have been negligent, might have failed to mitigate his damages and might have assumed the risk involved in dental care.

The dispute is pending in Racine County Circuit Court with no trial date scheduled yet.

According to the suit, Keese-Rath went to Burlington Family & Laser Dentistry in 2018 and 2019 and received treatment from Mesec. The suit lists 14 different teeth where Keese-Rath had cavities or other issues requiring crowns or other treatment.

The suit alleges that Mesec was “negligent and careless” and that his work “fell below the standard of care of reasonable dentists.” Keese-Rath suffered painful and permanent injuries, as well as mental pain and anguish, the suit states.

Another dentist later told Keese-Rath that all of Mesec’s previous work needed to be “redone, reworked or otherwise fixed,” according to the suit. The cost of the resulting repairs was reported to exceed $15,000.

Before deciding to take the matter to court, Keese-Rath said in an interview, he approached Burlington Family & Laser Dentistry and asked for a full refund plus the cost of repair treatment by his new dentist.

Keese-Rath said he had paid Mesec’s business about $700 a month for at least two years, and that his total loss easily exceeded $20,000. Mesec initially seemed interested in settling the matter, Keese-Rath said, but then the dentist stopped communicating.

“He’s making me do this,” Keese-Rath said of the legal action.

Read the dentist’s response

Listed as co-defendants are Burlington Family & Laser Dentistry, Cincinnati Insurance Co. and another unidentified insurance company. The suit seeks a finding of negligence and unspecified damages beyond the patient’s out-of-pocket costs.


Mesec, 64, has been treating patients in Burlington since approximately the mid-1980s.

Keese-Rath said he also approached the Wisconsin Dentistry Examining Board and discovered that the state licensing agency had twice previously reprimanded Mesec.

State records show that the board in 2011 found that Mesec had botched a patient’s treatment with faulty installation of a crown on a damaged tooth. Mesec’s license was limited for 90 days, and he was ordered to get new educational training.

In 2020, Mesec was reprimanded again after the state found that his license had expired and that he practiced dentistry without a license in October and November of 2019. Records show the licensing board determined that Mesec had “engaged in unprofessional conduct.”

Keese-Rath said his new dentist has done good work fixing Mesec’s mistakes and has tried to help resolve the issues stemming from Burlington Family & Laser Dentistry. Keese-Rath said he initially thought all dentists received the same training and all provided essentially the same level of care. Now, he said, “I’ve come to a realization that there is a difference.”


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