Tonganoxie family reaches settlement in medical gas accident case

Plumbing company denies liability but will pay $3M

The family of a 20-year-old Tonganoxie High School graduate who suffered brain damage during a 2009 dental procedure in Lawrence reached a $3 million settlement Thursday with a Lawrence plumbing company.

But legal action is pending against several defendants, including the city of Lawrence, in the case that was filed on behalf of Austin Stone. A trial is scheduled for November.

The lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of Stone and his guardians, Tara Passmore and Lance Stone, alleges that oxygen and nitrous oxide lines were crossed during design and construction of Dr. Kirk Vincent’s office at 4811 Bob Billings Parkway.

In a settlement agreement, Action Plumbing, which installed the medical gas lines, denied liability. Chief Douglas County District Judge Robert Fairchild approved the settlement in court Thursday.

According to testimony and court records, a major portion of the $3 million will be used to help pay for Stone’s future care and expenses. Stone was in a coma after the incident, and he is now legally blind and has other health issues.

The lawsuit alleges:

Stone visited Vincent’s office on March 30, 2009, to have four wisdom teeth removed. During the visit, Vincent tried to sedate Stone with what he believed was a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen.

When Stone did not become sedated, the doctor administered Fentanyl and Diazepam, and then Propofol. At that point Stone’s heart rate decreased, and Vincent administered what he thought to be 100 percent oxygen, but it was pure nitrous oxide.

Emergency medical workers were called because Stone eventually stopped breathing, and at Lawrence Memorial Hospital he was diagnosed with brain damage because of oxygen deprivation. Stone was eventually transferred to Kansas University Hospital and other institutes for rehabilitation.

According to testimony Thursday, Stone still suffers from significant neurological problems.

In addition to the city, the other defendants remaining in the case are Vincent; Patterson Dental Supply Inc. of Topeka; Blanchard Design Group LLC of Lawrence, the architect on the project; general contractor Design Build Collaborative LLC of Lawrence; and mechanical engineers Hoss & Brown Inc. of Lawrence. The city was included as a party because the suit alleges inspectors should have caught the switch in the lines.

The Stone family’s attorney, Kirk Goza, declined comment after Thursday’s hearing except to say the litigation is far from over.