In what could be an historic decision, a New York judge has determined that the family of a woman who died can proceed forward with a lawsuit against a doctor for wrongful death even though she was never his patient.
Here's what happened.
Pain medicine anesthesiologist, Dr. Stan Li was prescribing medications to a pain-pill addicted patient, David Laffer. This had been going on for some time. David Laffer then went to a Medford pharmacy in Suffolk County, New York with the intention of robbing the store and stealing thousands of pain pills. During the botched robbery, David Laffer killed four people who were in the Medford pharmacy at that time. Laffer pleaded guilty and is now serving a life sentence.
One of the dead victims was a woman named Jamie Tacceta. Her family brought a lawsuit seeking compensation for wrongful death against the anesthesiologist, Dr. Stan Li. They argued that the doctor should have known that by continuing to prescribe pain pills to an already addicted patient, that it was likely, or foreseeable, that the addict would then go out and commit crimes leading to injury or death.
The doctor's attorney asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit. He argued, among other things, that there was no doctor-patient relationship and therefore the doctor should not be held responsible for any actions of one of his patients.
The judge decided that even though there was no direct doctor-patient relationship, the physician may still have an obligation to the general public especially where he knows that the patient is an addict, and that it is foreseeable that the patient could cause injury or harm to innocent victims.
Watch the video to learn more.