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Case Law Update: Wrongful Death Due to Over-Prescription of Medicines

Dobyns v. Chung, M.D., No. 5-07-0568 (3-19-10) affirmed a wrongful death case filed by a widower alleging over-prescribing of narcotics over long term and failure to adequately warn about risk of harm from taking several kinds together. Decedent was age 31 and spouse and two minor sons survived. Jury verdict for $100,000, was reduced by 50% for contributory negligence. Defense counsel had remarked during closing that if there were liability verdict of about $1 million would be fair, but jury was to disregard attorneys’ statements if not based on evidence, and it was an opinion. The appellate court determined that the jury verdict was not manifestly inadequate and cannot make scientific assessment of verdict by comparison to other verdicts in state. This case will impact Illinois wrongful death law.