HOUSTON – A former Houston-area dentist has been found guilty of injury to a child by omission in connection to the irreversible brain damage to Neveah Hall.
According to court documents, Bethaniel Jefferson was found guilty on Wednesday.
The case made headlines back in 2016 after the then 4-year-old was left with severe brain damage from what should have been a simple procedure at the dentist’s office.
Dr. Bethaniel Jefferson with Diamond Dental Practice had treated the young girl in the past, but her mother, Courissa Clark, told FOX 26 in 2016 that about an hour into the procedure, her daughter cried out as she was experiencing a seizure. Courissa was told not to worry and to go back into the waiting room after Dr. Jefferson assured her everything was fine.
Hours had passed before the ambulance finally arrived, but it was too late, as Nevaeh suffered oxygen loss, leaving the young girl severely brain-damaged.
“It changed her life, and it changed ours,” says Clara Clark, Grandmother to Nevaeh Hall told FOX 26 last year. “Can you imagine if that was your child, we had a normal healthy child.”
The family believes Jefferson did not care then and still does not care now about what happened to Nevaeh.
“Things happen every day in the medical field, that’s understandable. But you do the right thing, and you call 911,” says Clara. “But that’s not what she did, and she was so cold about the whole situation.”
Neveah, now 10, remains conscious, but her family testified in court that “she can no longer see, speak, walk or eat on her own” and requires 24-hour medical care.
“The evidence in trial was heartbreaking,” the family’s co-counsel Ryan Skiver said in a written statement last year. “A 30-pound girl, little more than a toddler, was physically and chemically suffocated by an out-of-control, financially motivated dentist.”
The family’s attorneys announced in a press release Thursday that a state district court jury assessed damages of $95.5 million to the family.
“Nevaeh’s family is grateful for the service and attention of the jury,” co-counsel, James R. Moriarty said also in a statement. “They hope that this verdict will help prevent other families from suffering preventable tragedies like this one.”
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Meanwhile, Dr. Jefferson’s medical license was revoked in November 2016 by the Texas Dental Board.
A year later, Jefferson was indicted by a Harris County grand jury for intentionally and knowingly by omission causing serious bodily injury to a child by failing to seek and provide adequate medical services. However, attorneys say Jefferson had been reprimanded for previous incidents by the board in 2005 and 2012.
“This terrible incident was the consequence of the epidemic of overtreating children at corporate-owned Medicaid clinics managed to maximize profits,” Moriarty concluded in his written statement. “Nevaeh was one of many child victims of rotten dentists like Bethaniel Jefferson.”
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Moriarty says the family won’t see a dime of the money, settling outside of court.
“Even though the family won’t collect a dime, this verdict will resonate across the county. In these corrupt dental Medicare offices, and every single one of those dentists, have now been up on notice,” says Moriarty.