The hits just keep on coming for Dr. Amanda Hoover, the League City dentist whose former patients have filed a lawsuit alleging medical malpractice and asking for Hoover to pay damages.
First there was the initial lawsuit. After Mark and Lisa Deel learned in December 2015 that Hoover had allegedly performed painful, unnecessary dental work on their son Noah — work other dentists reviewing the case contend has caused permanent damage to a number of Noah's teeth — the family decided to sue Hoover. They filed last August in Galveston County District Court, as we reported in our August cover story. A slew of other former patients joined the lawsuit, as we reported back in April. (Hoover has answered all of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit with a general denial, according to court records.)
Meanwhile, Hoover's practice has apparently been suffering. In March, Hoover announced via Facebook that she had sold her practice and that she would be working out of another office to finish up any outstanding treatments she was slated to perform on her patients. Since then her practice's Facebook page has been taken down and the number for the Lakes Dental Center has been disconnected.
And now Hoover has filed a petition for bankruptcy in federal bankruptcy court in the Southern District of Texas. Hoover has filed under Chapter Seven, according to the bankruptcy notification. This means that the bankruptcy trustee will gather and sell off the debtor's non-exempt assets to pay off creditors. Filing for bankruptcy means that her creditors have to back off because of an automatic stay that is issued against creditors owed any money at the time of the bankruptcy filing.
However, Jim Moriarty, the lawyer representing the Deels and other former patients of Hoover's, says a declaration of bankruptcy won't do anything to stop the lawsuit against Hoover. Since Hoover has insurance, it would be the insurance company that would pay if Hoover is found to have committed medical malpractice, so the state of her own finances won't interfere with the lawsuit, Moriarty explained. (We've reached out to Hoover's lawyer, Thomas Root, for comment, but have yet to hear back. We'll update as soon as we do.)
At the same time, Hoover's dental practice will also be getting a closer look from the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners, the entity that oversees dentistry in Texas. In response to the complaints filed by Lisa Deel and other former patients, the board has investigated the issues alleged by Hoover's patients and has scheduled informal settlement conferences with those who have submitted complaints.
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During these hearings, which are currently scheduled for August, one or more board members will allow complainants to conduct presentations and to provide written supplements to go with the initial filed complaints. The informal settlement hearing allows complainants to go before a panel from the dental board and present their complaints in more detail. It also gives them the chance to notify the board about any new information and the current state of the patient's oral health.
At the end of the hearing, the panel asks the complainants what outcome they want, if they want to see the dentist in question suspended or to have her license revoked entirely. From there, the panel will mull the information over, according to the letters issued about these planned informal settlement conferences, and can choose to recommend that public action be taken against Hoover's license or that no public action be taken at all.
The people who filed the complaints are not told what the panel has recommended until the final resolution of the complaint. Even then, those recommendations are not binding since the dentist in question can appeal the decision and request an administrative hearing. On the other hand, if the informal settlement hearing board sides with the dentist, there's nothing else the complainant can do.
It's still unclear whether the allegations about medical malpractice will ultimately cost Hoover her license, and that question is likely to remain up in the air for a long time, but the process of reviewing these allegations is moving along.