Doctor agrees to settlement in lawsuit filed over father’s death from fentanyl overdose

by Jim Orr

Carey Cooper snored. It was a symptom of his sleep apnea. He had surgery to alleviate it. Cooper was fifty years old and the father of four children. He was a mechanical engineer and worked in the space program.

After his sleep apnea surgery, Cooper was sent home with a painkiller, liquid hydrocodone, to alleviate post-operative pain. However, Cooper was apparently nauseated from taking the prescribed liquid hydrocodone. So, his surgeon, Dr. Michael Paul Widick, called in a prescription for the fentanyl pain patch.

The fentanyl patch releases a potent narcotic that is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine through the skin for 72 hours. The patch was 32 times stronger than the liquid hydrocodone the doctor had ordered for Cooper. Putting on the Fentanyl patch and going to sleep with it on was the last thing Carey Cooper did.

According to the packaging that comes with the fentanyl patch, the patch should never be used for post-surgical pain, for acute pain, for intermittent pain or by someone who is not already taking opioids. Every one of those warnings should have been red flags that this was the wrong medication for Carey. Nonetheless, he was prescribed the second highest dosage available (75 micrograms) and it killed him.

Mr. Cooper’s family and estate sued the manufacturer of the patch and the surgeon that prescribed it. The manufacturer had earlier reached a confidential settlement, but the claims against the surgeon were proceeding to trial until a settlement was recently announced.

A tragedy like that endured by Carey Cooper’s family is a story no one wants to hear even once. Yet, our law firm continues to hear such stories.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson has successfully prosecuted more cases involving deaths due to fentanyl products than all the other firms in the country combined. We have spent years studying fentanyl, its uses and its misuses. We have deposed hundreds of doctors, scientists and experts on the subject of fentanyl products.

In the very first jury trial by the lawyers of Heygood, Orr & Pearson against makers of a fentanyl transdermal pain patch, a Florida jury awarded a $5.5 million verdict to the family of a man who died while wearing a Duragesic pain patch. More recently, Heygood, Orr & Pearson obtained a $16 million verdict for the family of a Cicero, Illinois woman who died while wearing a Duragesic pain patch.

Fatal mistakes that our firm has seen doctors commit in prescribing fentanyl patches include:

  • Overestimating the initial dose of fentanyl patches
  • Prescribing them for acute or post operative pain
  • Prescribing fentanyl patches to opioid naïve patients
  • Prescribing fentanyl patches to patients with significant pulmonary problems
  • Prescribing fentanyl patches at the same time as other CNS depressant medications

If you or a loved one has experienced the tragedy of losing a family member as a result of Fentanyl pain patch usage, you and your family deserve answers to your questions. If the loss was as a result of a prescribing error, you have the right to demand that the responsible healthcare provider be held accountable. Contact us for a free consultation so we can help you determine the best way to protect your legal rights and interests.

To receive a free legal consultation and find out if you are eligible to file a case, please call our toll-free number at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out our free case evaluation form located on this page.

by Jim Orr

Jim Orr is a licensed attorney and a partner at HO&P focusing on business and personal injury litigation. Jim was selected multiple times to the Super Lawyers List and has tried 70+ cases to verdict.