When Nevaeh Hall was 4 years old, she was sedated so she could get a baby root canal and a crown placed on one of her teeth, according to her family’s attorney.
Once the sedatives had taken effect, she was restrained with a “papoose board” and the Texas dentist began drilling to remove tooth decay.
But Nevaeh started screaming — then convulsing, according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of her family in 2017. It is believed she was having a seizure.
A Houston attorney alleged that the now-former dentist Bethaniel Jefferson was negligent when treating the young child in January 2016. Nevaeh suffered brain damage because of it.
“Nevaeh Hall, now 10, is conscious, but can no longer see, speak, walk or eat on her own, her family testified in the trial,” according to a Sept. 22 news release from lawyer James Moriarty. “She requires 24-hour medical care.”
After a three-day jury trial, her parents, Courissa Clark and Derrick Hall, were awarded $95.5 million in damages, according to court records.
“The evidence in trial was heartbreaking,” attorney Ryan Skiver said in a statement. “A 30-pound girl, little more than a toddler, was physically and chemically suffocated by an out-of-control, financially motivated dentist.”
Moriarty alleged Nevaeh’s irreversible brain damage “was the consequence of the epidemic of overtreating children at corporate-owned Medicaid clinics managed to maximize profits.”
The defense attorney representing Jefferson did not immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News on Sept. 23.
Jefferson’s medical license was revoked by the Texas Dental Board in November 2016, KWTX reported. 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.”
“Ms. Jefferson chose to do everything other than provide the care the victim needed,” special prosecutor Stan Clark said in 2017, according to the outlet. “As a result, the victim has suffered permanent brain damage and will never lead a normal life.”
The girl’s parents had asked if someone should call for an ambulance as soon as their daughter began convulsing at about 11:20 a.m., the complaint says, but Jefferson said that wouldn’t be necessary.
While she did give Nevaeh some medication at the recommendation of a pharmacist, attorneys say it “aggravated the child’s condition.” That medication was not approved for seizure treatment and might have interacted with other medications the girl was on, making it so oxygen was not getting to her blood and brain.
“Soon after, the child began showing seriously abnormal oxygen saturation readings, low blood pressure, and an elevated pulse,” according to the lawsuit.
Hours later, while still at the dental office, Nevaeh had another seizure, attorneys said. Then at about 4 p.m. she began throwing up and violently shaking. It wasn’t until about 4:30 p.m., when the patient fell unconscious, that the dentist had her staff call 911.
Nevaeh was diagnosed with irreversible global brain damage, according to her family’s attorneys.
“Nevaeh’s family is grateful for the service and attention of the jury,” Moriarty said in the news release. “They hope that this verdict will help prevent other families from suffering preventable tragedies like this one.”