Court tosses dental practice wrongful death suit

Gavel Judge

A judge in Texas dismissed a wrongful death lawsuit that claimed a dental practice, where two dentists were shot and killed by an unhappy patient, knew employees were in danger of harm but did nothing to eliminate the risk.

The court dismissed the lawsuit against Affordable Care's Affordable Dentures & Implants in Tyler, TX, in relation to the shooting deaths of Dr. Jack Burroughs Jr., 75, and Dr. Blake Sinclair, 59, in 2022. The suit, filed by family members of Burroughs and Sinclair, claimed negligence, premises liability, gross negligence, and negligent undertaking, according to an order filed on June 10 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas Tyler Division.

The case was dismissed with prejudice because it failed to establish a claim that the dental practice had a responsibility to prevent violent crime, according to the order that was signed by U.S. District Judge Jeremy Kernodle.

"The Court cannot conclude that Smith's violent conduct plausibly was 'a natural and predictable progression from the conduct that preceded it,'" the order states.

On March 16, 2022, Steven Alexander Smith, 42, shot Burroughs and Sinclair at the practice, and they later died of their injuries. Smith was displeased with his dentures and got into a confrontation with employees at the practice.

Employees ceased treatment and told Smith to leave after "exhibiting aggressive and threatening behavior." Then, Smith left the practice, retrieved a gun from his truck, and shot the clinicians, according to the order.

In January 2024, Smith agreed to plead guilty to capital murder of multiple persons and accepted an automatic life prison sentence. Initially, Smith had faced the death penalty, but that charge was removed in November 2023.

Page 1 of 66
Next Page