In The News

Santa Barbara News Press features Berger Kahn Overmedication and Wrongful Death Case

(filed under: In The News | March 19, 2013)

Berger Kahn Principal Rich Collins was featured  for his representation in Micaiah Meadows, et al. v. Julio Gabriel Diaz, M.D., et al., his second wrongful death suit against a Santa Barbara doctor.  


Second family sues indicted doctor

March 16, 2013 12:42 AM

On top of federal charges that could send him to prison for centuries, a former Santa Barbara doctor accused of overprescribing medications must now contend with a medical malpractice lawsuit brought by the daughters of a deceased patient.

The three adult daughters of Roscoe Steven Meadows, who died at 49 in September 2009, are the second family to accuse Julio Gabriel Diaz of medical malpractice in connection with the death of a loved one.

Federal authorities have linked the former owner of the Family Medical Clinic on Milpas Street to the deaths of 11 patients.

Drug Enforcement Administration special agents and Santa Barbara police arrested Mr. Diaz at his Goleta home in January 2012, and his physician and surgeon’s certificate has been revoked.

Mr. Meadows first visited Mr. Diaz for pain management services in 2008 after suffering workplace injuries that required surgery, said Rich Collins, attorney for Mr. Meadows’ daughters — Micaiah, Mishaela and Krista. Prescribed powerful painkillers such as oxycodone and hydromorphone, Mr. Meadows was taking the medications as pills, patches and dissolving tablets, leading to an addiction.

Mr. Meadows went into rehabilitation but returned to Mr. Diaz upon his release, said Mr. Collins.

The doctor immediately placed Mr. Meadows on the same opiate program at the same dosage, but it was more than the patient could tolerate, leading to his death, Mr. Collins alleged.

While the case is still in its early stages, having been filed in December, Mr. Collins said he already learned Mr. Diaz doesn’t plan to defend himself.

The attorney said he has been in contact with Mr. Diaz directly and his criminal attorney.

Mr. Diaz also doesn’t plan to defend himself in a prior medical malpractice lawsuit filed by Mr. Collins for the parents of the late Adam Montgomery, who died in November 2011.

Mr. Diaz allegedly prescribed Mr. Montgomery nearly 2,100 pills during the last six months of his life.

Mr. Collins plans to pursue default judgments against Mr. Diaz in both cases. Damages have yet to be finalized.

Both families have sued pharmacies that filled the prescriptions. The 10 pharmacy defendants in the Montgomery case have argued there are insufficient facts to show their alleged negligence is the cause of Mr. Montgomery’s death, according to court documents.

The Montgomery case is scheduled to go to trial Dec. 9.

Mr. Diaz’s criminal trial is expected to begin May 7. He faces as many as 340 years in prison if convicted.

He has been indicted in connection with prescribing two patients large amounts of pills containing various controlled substances. The alleged crimes span 2008-2010.

On Nov. 15, 2010, Mr. Diaz reportedly distributed and caused the distribution of 375 pills to a patient identified as “C.A.,” and did the same with 240 pills the following day, according to the federal indictment. The pills included oxycodone, methadone, hydrocodone and alprazolam.

Within Santa Barbara and Orange counties, the doctor allegedly distributed or caused the distribution of nearly 500 pills in less than a year to a patient identified as “C.S.” who, on Nov. 25, 2010, received a total of 210 pills. The medications included oxycodone, hydromorphone and alprazolam, according to the indictment.

Mr. Diaz is charged with five counts in connection with C.S., who was 19 and 20 years old during the period. Because the patient was younger than 21, each count carries a possible sentence of 40 years in federal prison.

Mr. Diaz is under home detention in Goleta.