Texas family awarded $95M after 'rotten dentist' starves girl, 4, of oxygen causing damage to her brain
HOUSTON, TEXAS: A Texas family has been awarded $95M after a dentist in Houston deprived a four-year-old girl, Navaeh Hall, of oxygen while operating on her, which caused the child to suffer severe brain damage, lose her eyesight and left her paralyzed, unable to walk and talk. Hall's heartbroken mother Courissa Clark said that she even rushed inside the clinic after hearing her child cry but the careless dentist assured her that she was fine and insisted that she wait outside.
Hall was in the pink of health her she was taken to Diamond Dentistry in 2016 to have a few teeth filled and extracted due to a decay. The girl reportedly suffered seizures during the treatment but Dr Bethaniel Jefferson did not do anything and continued to treat the girl instead of calling 911. The dentist administered five sedatives during the seven-hour procedure. Hall ended up being taken in an ambulance from the clinic and was hospitalized for months for severe brain damage.
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Jefferson who has been banned from Dentristy practice was found liable due to her negligence towards Hall by the 269th State District Court in Houston on Thursday, September 22. It is unlikely her family will receive cash as Jefferson claimed she paid the maximum amount to the family, according to the Daily Mail. The sum has not been disclosed and has been described as a "pittance" by Hall's lawyers. During the trial, Hall's parents, Clark and Derrick, testified that she requires 24-hour medical care. One of the family's lawyers, Jim Moriarty, told ABC Houston, "The problem is the dentist has long since paid the pittance that she could pay. Now, we're sitting here and we're screwed." Jefferson does not have enough insurance or assets to cover the damages. After the jury heard that evidence, they came back with a verdict that said, "Your damages are huge."
A device called a papoose, that covers children like a cocoon, is used so that children cannot move during the procedure. Hall was placed in one for four hours. About two hours into the procedure, Clark rushed in hearing her daughter cry and even asked the doctor if she should call an ambulance but the dentist, reportedly, said, "We're just going to try to get her to calm down. We're going to monitor her. We're going to watch her. You guys have nothing to worry about," before asking the her to wait outside. "The evidence in the trail was heartbreaking. A 30-pound girl, little more than a toddler, was physically and chemically suffocated by an out-of-control, financially motivated dentist," said Hall's attorney, as per Click 2 Houston.
Moriarty had shown a chart which showed that at one point Hall's oxygen level was down to 49% and her heartbeat was at 196 beats. Moriarty said, "That's more than victory, and this is a message to every crooked dentist in the country that if you abuse our vulnerable children, if you take advantage of them, if you steal from the taxpayer, we will hold you accountable." Clark said, "It was definitely worth it." The mother still hopes her daughter will be better one day. She said, "I can definitely see her walk and talk again." Moriarty referred to Jefferson as a "rotten dentist." In 2017, Jefferson was indicted by a Harris County grand jury on charges of intentionally and knowingly by omission causing serious bodily injury to a child by failing to seek and provide adequate medical attention. The first-degree felony carries a prison sentence of between five to 99 years.
In November 2016, the Texas Dental Board revoked Jefferson's license. "This indictment should send a message to the medical community that they will be held accountable for abandoning their patients in times of crisis," the Assistant Attorney General said. He stated, "Accidents occur in health care more than everyone would prefer, but practitioners should act appropriately and contact higher level medical care providers when they realize their patient is distressed beyond their capabilities." The attorney emphasized that intentionally allowing a patient to suffer from a seizure and severely starving them of oxygen levels was a criminal dereliction of duty owed to the patient. Jefferson will face a trial in October.
If you or anyone you know suspects child abuse, you are urged to immediately call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential and the hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.