Court awards Texas family $95M after dental procedure left young girl disabled
A Texas family has been awarded $95 million after their young daughter was left blind and unable to walk or talk due to the botched treatment she received from her dentist in 2016 — but the heartbroken family likely won’t see a dollar of the hefty pot.
Nevaeh Hall was just 4 years old when she arrived at the Diamond Dental Practice in Houston in January 2016. She was sedated and strapped to a “papoose board” by her dentist, Bethaniel Jefferson, who intended to perform a baby root canal as well as place a crown on one of her back teeth, according to news release from the Hall family’s attorney.
When the dentist started to drill however, Nevaeh almost immediately started to scream and convulse. It is now believed that she suffered a seizure. The girl was left with severe, irreversible brain damage and still suffers seizures to this day.
“Nevaeh Hall, now 10, is conscious, but can no longer see, speak, walk or eat on her own,” attorney James Moriarty said. “She requires 24-hour medical care.”
In a lawsuit filed in 2017, Nevaeh’s parents, Courissa Clark and Derrick Hall said their daughter was improperly restrained and sedated during the treatment for her decayed teeth. During a three day trial earlier this month, prosecutors also noted it took more than four hours before Jefferson called for medical assistance.
Her parents said they asked whether to call an ambulance almost immediately after Nevaeh started to convulse, but Jefferson told them that it wouldn’t be necessary. Instead, the dentist gave her medication that was not approved for seizure treatment and “aggravated the child’s condition” attorneys argued. What’s more, the medication may have interacted with other medications the girl was on, depriving her of necessary oxygen.
On Wednesday, a state district court jury in Houston sided with Hall’s family and awarded them $95 million. Despite the legal win, Courissa and Doug may never get a dollar because Jefferson’s malpractice insurance covered only a small portion of that amount.
“The problem is the dentist has long since paid the pittance that she could pay,” said Moriarty on Friday. “Now, we’re sitting here and we’re screwed.”
Jefferson’s medical license was revoked by the Texas Dental Board in November 2016. She was also indicted on charges of “intentionally and knowingly by omission (causing) serious bodily injury to a child by failing to seek and provide adequate medical attention.”
A criminal trial against Jefferson is set to start next month.