Woman blames alleged 'pill mill' for husband's overdose death

Kelly Holleran Feb. 25, 2010, 3:11am

The wife of a recently deceased man blames doctors at Unimed Medical Clinic and pharmacists at Penny's Pharmacy for causing his death, saying he would not have passed away at age 38 had he not been prescribed and given lethal doses of pain killers and muscle relaxants.

Shana Louise Lee claims her husband, Jeffrey Scott Lee, sought medical care from Unimed Medical Clinic in Beaumont in December 2007.

According to the complaint filed Feb. 12 in Jefferson County District Court, during Jeffrey Scott Lee's visit to the clinic, defendant Dr. John Edward Perry III, a cardiologist, prescribed him 120 tablets of the muscle relaxant Carisoprodol and 120 tablets of the pain reliever Hydrocodone.

In addition, physician's assistant and co-defendant Kelly S. Lock signed a prescription for 60 tablets of Xanax, the suit states.

"Plaintiff would show that the medications that Dr. Perry prescribed were excessive and were prescribed without a valid medical purpose," the complaint says. "These medications are known drugs of abuse because of their highly addictive nature and the euphoria their use creates. These drugs have frequently been prescribed without a valid medical purpose by unscrupulous pill mills in the Southeast Texas area."

Despite the danger of the combination of drugs he was prescribed, Jeffrey Scott Lee visited Penny's Pharmacy to fill the Hydrocodone and Carisoprodol prescriptions on Dec. 1, 2007, Shana Louise Lee claims.

Only two days later, on Dec. 3, 2007, Shana Louise Lee awoke to discover her husband lying still beside her. He wasn't breathing, his skin was cold and his body was stiff, according to the complaint. Shana Louise Lee immediately called 911, but by the time the paramedics arrived, Jeffrey Scott Lee was dead.

"An autopsy performed on Dec. 3, 2007, concluded that Mr. Lee died an accidental death caused by combining drug toxicity," the suit states. "The vehicle of death was the Carisoprodol, Hydrocodone, and Xanax prescribed by Dr. Perry and Defendant Lock at United Medical Clinic."

Perry and Lock should have known of the dangers of the drugs, but greed drove them to prescribe the medication to Jeffrey Scott Lee, the complaint says.

"The fact pattern present here shows that a self-interested profit motivation replaced good judgment," the suit states.

In addition to the doctors and Unimed Medical Clinic, Shana Louise Lee names Penny's Pharmacy as a defendant, saying it should never have dispensed the medication to her husband.

"It is the obligation of the pharmacy management hierarchy to develop, implement, and monitor policies and procedures that give its employees proper training and authority to intervene and refuse to dispense questionable prescriptions," the complaint says.

Because Penny's Pharmacy is located 60 miles away from United Medical Clinic, pharmacists should have been alerted that the prescription may not have been for a valid medical purpose. Pharmacists there should have called Perry's office before filling the prescription, according to the complaint. Had they done so, they would have learned Perry is a cardiologist, not a pain management specialist, prompting further investigation, Shana Louise Lee claims.

Another option the pharmacists chose to ignore was to call a pharmacy in Beaumont to discover why Jeffrey Lee Scott had to drive so far to have a prescription filled, according to the complaint.

"Such a phone call would have revealed to them that the pharmacies in Beaumont had banded together to refuse to fill prescriptions from Unimed Medical Clinic, recognizing that Unimed prescriptions were dangerous prescriptions written for no valid medical purpose," the suit states. "Upon taking these simple steps, the Pharmacy Defendants would have refused to fill Mr. Lee's prescriptions and would have alerted the Medical Board. If the Pharmacy Defendants had never filled Mr. Lee's prescriptions, Mr. Lee would be alive today."

Because of her husband's death, Shana Louise Lee incurred medical, funeral and burial costs; suffered mental anguish; and lost her husband's companionship, society, household services, earnings and inheritance, the complaint says.

In her complaint, Shana Louise Lee alleges negligence, negligence per se, gross negligence and vicarious liability against defendants Unimed Medical Center, Durce Mohammed, Muhammed Danny Ahmed, Dameon Reynauld Tryon, John Edward Perry III, Kelly S. Lock, Penny's Pharmacy and pharmacist Paul Mason Penny.

Shana Louise Lee seeks unspecified damages, plus costs, pre- and post-judgment interest and other relief to which she may be entitled.

Kay L. Van Wey and Kelsey Ciluffo of Van Wey and Johnson in Dallas will be representing her.

The case has been assigned to Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: B185-926.

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