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Dentist Settles Disabled Teen's Suit

October 18, 2002|Louis Sahagun | Times Staff Writer

A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed on behalf of a Pasadena teenager who claimed she was left permanently disabled by a sedative administered in her dentist's office, her attorney said Thursday.

Stephen Belgum, an attorney representing Melissa McGrath, would not disclose the terms of the accord except to say it will "provide a significant amount of money and keep her from being a public ward."

Belgum said McGrath was 15 when she suffered a severe adverse reaction to an overdose of chloral hydrate in the Pasadena office of dentist Drueciel Ford in March 1999. "She was an excellent student before the incident, which stopped her heart for a significant period of time," he said. "She will likely always have serious memory problems, cognitive deficits and physical disabilities." McGrath enrolled in a special school in Escondido and received a high school diploma in June, he said.

A jury in March found Ford not guilty of 60 criminal charges, noted her attorney, Robert McNeill Jr., who denied that McGrath's heart attack was caused by an overdose. The jury deadlocked on three other charges, and prosecutors decided not to retry Ford on those.

"Dr. Ford is planning to resume her practice," McNeill said.

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