Missouri physician, hospital ordered to pay $17.6 million verdict in opioid overprescription lawsuit

by Jim Orr

A Missouri jury has awarded a $17.6 million verdict to a St. Louis couple over improper opioid painkiller prescriptions issued by a St. Louis physician. Brian and Michelle Koon filed a lawsuit against Dr. Henry D. Walden and St. Louis University after Brian became addicted to several opioid drugs as a result of being prescribed thousands of prescription painkillers by Dr. Walden.

According to the couple’s lawsuit, Brian went to see Dr. Walden, his primary care physician, at St. Louis University Care in 2008 for back pain. The Koons allege that Dr. Walden began prescribing high amounts of the painkiller drugs Oxycontin, Vicodin, and oxycodone to Brian. Between 2008 and 2012, the couple alleges that Dr. Walden prescribed more than 37,000 pills to Brian. During that time, his morphine-equivalent opioid dose rose from 49 mg/day to 1,555 mg/day. Treatment guidelines for opioid medications established by the CDC call for a maximum morphine-equivalent dose of no more than 100 mg/day.

The attorney representing the Koons argued that Dr. Walden, like many physicians, was under the mistaken impression that the dangers of high dose opioid painkiller prescriptions can be avoided by gradually increasing the patient’s dose. However, an expert witness called to testify at the trial, Yale Health director Dr. Paul Genecin, said that the opioid doses prescribed by Dr. Walden were “colossal and reckless”.

The Koons alleged that as a result of these excessive opioid prescriptions, Brian became addicted to his painkiller medications and ended up in drug rehabilitation treatment. The couple alleges that as a result of Brian’s addiction to opioid painkillers, their marriage was severely damaged, leading the couple to file for divorce.

The jury in the case awarded damages of $1.4 million to Brian Koon and $1.2 million to his wife. The jury also awarded the couple $15 million in punitive damages against Dr. Walden and SLU Care.

Complications from Prescription Painkillers? You May Be Eligible to File a Case.

Opioid painkillers that are prescribed in excessive doses can lead to abuse, addiction, overdose, and even death. When complications ensue as a result of opioid overprescription, the doctor or hospital who prescribed these medications may be at fault.

If you or a loved one have suffered an overdose or other complication caused by the overprescription of opioid painkillers by a doctor or medical facility, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit. The first step in taking legal action is to talk with a law firm whose attorneys can guide you through the process of filing a claim.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have filed lawsuits on behalf of individuals who have been harmed by complications from opioid painkillers, including cases involving overdose and addiction. Heygood, Orr & Pearson has handled more cases involving the fentanyl pain patch—a powerful opioid medication about 80-100 times stronger than morphine—than all other law firms in the country combined. Our law firm has the experience with opioid litigation to handle your case from start to finish.

If you or a loved one has suffered complications from opioid painkiller medications prescribed by a doctor or hospital, the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson are ready to help. To find out more about your legal rights and learn whether you may qualify to file a case, contact our firm by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by following the link to our free case evaluation form located at the top of this page and answering a few simple questions to get started.

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.