HOUSTON, Texas -- A Texas family was awarded $95.5 million after their then-4-year-old daughter suffered brain damage during a dentist visit in 2016. However, the family may never actually collect the cash.
After a three-day trial, a jury found that former dentist Bethaniel Jefferson was negligent in her treatment of Nevaeh Hall, who suffered drug-induced seizures and oxygen deprivation at the Diamond Dental Practice in Houston in January 2016.
According to a release from the family's attorney, Nevaeh was improperly restrained and sedated during treatment for decayed teeth.
Nevaeh's parents, Courissa Clark and Derrick Hall, also allege that Jefferson kept the young girl, who is now 10 years old, away from her mother after she began having seizures.
The 10-year-old is conscious, but as a result of the incident, she requires 24-hour medical care as she can no longer see, speak, walk or eat on her own, her family testified in the trial.
"The problem is the dentist has long since paid the pittance that she could pay. Now, we're sitting here and we're screwed," Jim Moriarty, one of the family's attorneys, said.
The jury's decision still leaves Clark and Hall to figure out how to care for their severely-disabled daughter.
Moriarty, however, said it could stop what happened to Neveah from happening to another child.
"This jury has heard more evidence of corruption in the Medicaid dental system than any jury in this country. After they heard that evidence, they came back with a verdict that said, 'Your damages are huge.' That's more than a moral victory. That is a message to every crooked dentist in this 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," Moriarty said.
"It was definitely worth it to get justice for Neveah," Clark said.
In November 2016, the Texas Dental Board revoked Jefferson's medical license. A year later, 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 trial is set to start in October.
It's another attempt at accountability that could deliver more meaningful justice to a woman who still has big dreams for her daughter.
"I definitely can see her walk and talk again," Clark said.