Defense Verdict Achieved in Opioid and Benzodiazepine Prescription Drug Death Case

In a death case, Plaintiff daughter alleged that our primary care physician client negligently treated her 40 year old father’s chronic pain and severe anxiety with excessive and prolonged opioid and benzodiazepine prescriptions causing addiction and her father’s ultimate death from hypothermia. Having not been heard from him for three days, the man was discovered in a frigid mobile home with minimal vital signs from which he could not be resuscitated despite the copious administration of Narcan. Plaintiff’s two well-established and credentialed expert witnesses opined that the root cause of the man’s death was respiratory depression brought on by his opioid pain and anti-anxiety benzo medications. During the course of the week long trial in Dauphin County, the Defense called numerous fact witnesses and two expert witnesses in establishing that our client’s prescription practices over a seven year period were within standards of acceptable pain management care applicable at the time. It was further persuasively postulated that the event precipitating the man’s hypothermic demise was his likely ‘binge’ use of crystal meth (a non-narcotic illicit stimulant drug) followed by a ‘crash’ phase resulting in overwhelming somnolence; explaining his frozen exposure. (In pre-trial discovery, it was learned that a hollow pen was found on the man’s person which ME’s Harrisburg trial defense team of Michael Badowski and Anthony Gabriel secured independent lab analysis revealing the interior presence of methamphetamine.) Following two hours of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict of no negligence. Pre-trial, the defense was confronted with and successfully thwarted a plethora of motions to exclude evidence along with repeated attempts on the part of Plaintiff to assert claims of punitive damages. Plaintiff would not budge from her $5 million settlement demand.