The opioid crisis has turned into an epidemic — and it’s not getting any better. The issue is widespread across the country, affecting all demographics.
The victims involved in the opioid epidemic are just people taking medicine a doctor prescribed to them. The problem is, doctors are prescribing morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl, and other opioids in cases where they’re often unnecessary.
Or, many doctors are prescribing these opioids but cutting patients off quickly without waning them off the drug properly. Because these opioids are highly addictive, many patients then turn to the streets for these drugs, further triggering the rise of the crisis.
In one opiate case, Jim Magazine represented a gentleman who was the president of a bank. He had a non-surgical herniated disc, and the doctors got him so hooked on Oxy that he ended up losing his job. It doesn’t make sense to prescribe this kind of drug for a non-surgical procedure, but the doctors prescribed it anyway, and it cost this man his life.
Motivated by money, many doctors and pharmacies are accelerating the rise of the epidemic, and, in turn, the fall of U.S. citizens. That’s why attorneys like Jim are working to educate the public, seek justice for victims and their families, and fight against doctors and pharmacies who are contributing to this crisis.
Learn more in this episode of the David vs. Goliath podcast with elite personal injury lawyers Matt Dolman and Jim Magazine. They talk about the increasing opioid epidemic, the different cases Jim litigates, and how money motivates in these types of cases.
In this episode:
- [00:49] Matt Dolman introduces his guest, Jim Magazine
- [01:01] Jim discusses his work litigating opiate cases
- [06:18] How some doctors and pharmacies are contributing to the opiate epidemic
- [08:32] Jim breaks down the elements within an opiate injury or death case
- [11:38] How money motivates in these types of cases
- [13:55] Jim shares how to get in touch with the firm and describes his Florida injury practice
Welcome to The Dolman Law Group Podcast. I’m Matt Dolman. I’m here with the esteemed trial lawyer, Jim Magazine, board certified civil trial lawyer.
How are you?
Good to see you. It’s been a long time.
Good to see you.
I know you’re involved in a project. It’s on a national level. You’re litigating opiate cases. Tell us a little about that.
Well, so I got involved with the National Opiate Litigation Team probably around 2016-
… and as I was traveling around the country getting cities and counties to sign up with us, I noticed just what an incredible problem this was. I looked at it and I thought, “These are some of the greatest medical malpractice cases I’ve ever seen.” Then, what I did was I looked for some partners in some different states and found a great partner in Illinois and we’ve kind of branched this firm nationwide-
… just doing opiate overdose cases.
Take me through that.
What are you looking for? What are the elements of an opiate overdose case? I mean, just simple… Somebody’s prescribed opiates and they overdose on… It’s not obviously that.
What we look for, Matt, is this. The first thing we’ll look for is the reason for the opiates, and then whether the reason is justifiable-
… because I’ll give you a good example. We’re litigating a case up in Chicago right now where nice lady, 41 years old, had low back surgery-
… but she was a pulmonary patient. She had a lot of pulmonary issues, COPD, and she had asthma. All over her medical records and she had some anxiety that went along with that, and so her pulmonologist was prescribing her what are called benzodiazepines.
Okay, those benzodiazepines relax you. I’m mean, like Valium, Soma, and-
… but what happens is if you look at that, those also do another thing. They inhibit your breathing-
… okay? She gets referred to a pain management doctor.
The pain management doctor reviews all of the medical records that she has, reviews all of the medicine she’s on. He’s totally aware of her COPD and her asthma and he prescribes her morphine, Oxys, and a Fentanyl patch. Three of the most powerful drugs we have and all three of those also slow your breathing.
What happens is she takes the medicine as prescribed and her Dad or her husband comes into our office crying and he says, “All she did was take the medicine like the doctor prescribed her and she stopped breathing at night.” Those are the cases that we have, and so we look all over the country for the abuse of this because if you look at some of this stuff like Fentanyl-
Which has been in the news a lot.
… which has been… but that’s the core Fentanyl coming from… that’s the stuff coming from China, but we’re talking the Fentanyl that’s prescribed to you.
What is the reason that we’re prescribing Fentanyl to a pain patient? That’s the stuff that we’re giving right now. That’s taking the place of morphine on the battlefield. Okay, so if I have somebody that has a non-surgical herniated disc, why in the world is this doctor prescribing them a Fentanyl patch? What’s the justification? There really isn’t. Then, what happens is is that person becomes an addict-
… and sooner or later the body just gives in and they pass away.
Why are doctors doing it?
It’s all about money.
I knew the answer, I just wanted-
… you to spell it out for us.
It’s all about money, Matt.
Are you looking for overprescriptions or prescriptions that don’t meet the actual clinical presentation? Or-
Yeah. I mean, what we look for is, and in Illinois it’s really unique because they have what’s called The Prescription Database.
Just for those who are listening, Jim Magazine’s a Florida lawyer.
I am a Florida lawyer.
We do have-
Make sure that we’re clear on that.
… we do have, yes-
… exactly right.
We have what’s called The Illinois Prescription Database-
… which is unique because in Florida, our legislature blocked lawyers from being able to get that. Okay, so the database shows me every single prescription that my client would have filled and the doctor that prescribed that medicine. Then, we’re able to go to the toxicology report and look in there and match what’s there-
… and if it matches, we start the process-
… okay? We have experts all over the country in addictionology, pain management. We have a pharmacy expert, and so we put these experts together and we get all the medical records and if we get an opinion that this is a case that this person shouldn’t have died, which they all shouldn’t have died-
… then we proceed.
What about in the states where you don’t have that access to that information?
It becomes difficult then because hopefully we have a family member that can tell us where they’re getting them and we have to do that in litigation, then-
… because we can’t get those records outside of litigation, but we’re very fortunate in Ohio. We’re able to get them. We’re just starting with you in Massachusetts-
… so we’re trying to branch this out because this is an epidemic. It’s not getting any better.
You’re seeing the same usual players, though, the same doctors are-
The same usual-
… the same pain mills?
… yeah, we have one doctor up in Illinois right now that I think we have four cases for and they all overdosed and-
… and he’s the one that he changes the cause of death on the death certificate every single time, so-
… oh, to a heart attack or anything other than opiate and something that’s-
… opiates. It’s disgusting.
You’re seeing the same repeat offenders, though?
We see a lot of the same repeat offenders and we see doctors that go outside of their specialty. We have a case now, a gentleman who had cancer in 2004, neck and throat cancer.
They did radiation and chemotherapy.
In the cancer world, if the person shows no signs of cancer after five years, they’re deemed cancer-free-
… and the standard in the cancer world is then you see the oncologist maybe once a quarter, once every six months or once a year-
… just to assure you’re in remission.
… and the cancer doctor really doesn’t become the pain management doctor, so this gentleman, this doctor went totally outside his scope because the gentleman had what’s called fibrotic pain, which is consistent with radiation. He was prescribing him 2,000 Oxys a month.
This being the oncologist?
This being the oncologist.
There were intervals in this gentleman’s history where he would have an overdose. He would be in a hospital. They would send him to pain management. The pain management doctor would call the oncologist, tell him, “When he comes back, this is what you need to prescribe and get him back in to see me,” and he would just disregard those orders. Now, the interesting part about it is that the pain or the oncology center is owned by an umbrella that owns the pharmacy-
… and so this was the only pharmacy that would fill those prescriptions.
There you got the-
… the motivation-
… and it goes right back to money.
When we look at these cases, you’re looking at… What are the following elements for those out there that are considering, you know, that-
… there is a death of a family member, colleague, friend, or an overdose injury has resulted in obviously an ongoing medical issues? What are you looking at? What elements fit the case?
A few things, so the first thing is let’s talk about the clean case. The clean case is you’re dying of the prescriptions that were prescribed to you.
Okay, if we have that, it’s easy to go back, look in the medical records and to find out why you were prescribed, whether you were overprescribed, and whether or not there’s signs of addiction and, what is the doctor doing-
… to either try to taper you off these medicines or help you with this addiction? We also look at cases where a doctor will wrongfully… won’t wean you off. Will just cut you off, and so if you have a person who’s on Oxycontin, Oxycodone-
… or they’re taking morphine and you cut them off, these people are on synthetic heroin, and all of a sudden-
That’s why it’s known as Hillbilly Heroin.
… right. What happens is they’re going to go to the street. We look at cases where if we have a client who was cut off in June, just straight cut cold turkey, and then he goes to the street, takes heroin and he dies, we take that case all day long because that is a foreseeable outcome because you really have a duty to start tapering them off. You can’t just cut that person off and expect that they’re not going to have these withdrawals.
Turn to the streets.
Right, and they turn to the streets.
How often is this occurring? I mean, we know that there’s been opiate crisis has been going on for a number of years now and it keeps getting the publicity and this stigma that’s been attached to this has obviously grown over the past decade. What’s the status now? How bad of a pandemic is this?
Matt, you would think with the national opiate litigation and the coverage that it has gotten that this would be tapering down. Actually, my practice is growing.
The doctors have not curbed their-
The doctors have not curbed it at all.
… because money’s the greatest motivator.
Money’s the greatest motivator.
This is widespread throughout the country.
Throughout the country.
You’re taking these cases in all 50 states?
Well, not right now, so we’re taking them right now in Illinois, Ohio, in Massachusetts, and West Virginia.
Okay, so obviously if there’s a case in another state like that, would definitely look at it and if we can find the appropriate co-counsel to help us, we’ll absolutely go all-in.
Okay, so it’s a national practice-
It’s a national practice.
… focused on those four or five states you’re-
… in right now.
What’s the status of this litigation right now? Are these one-off cases like every case is an individual case?
Is it going towards multi-district litigation?
Nope. They’re all one-off med-mal cases. That’s what’s unique about them, and the interesting thing is most lawyers, you look at it and you’re like, “The guy’s a drug addict, he overdosed,” and you look back. If you can look back in the records to see the etiology, this was just a person that relied on the doctor and the doctor gave him medicine-
It started this-
… and it started this-
… cycle, this vicious cycle that they couldn’t get out of and they don’t even understand. We represented a gentleman who was a president of a bank-
… right? And-
I would assume this affects all types of demographics.
… all types of demographics-
… and basically had a non-surgical herniated disc and the doctors got him so hooked on Oxy that he ended up losing his job-
Why would you prescribe-
… for non-surgical herniated disc.
Doesn’t make any sense.
It doesn’t make any sense at all, but that’s the whole issue. That’s where this lies. The money’s the motivator because you have to come back every month to get the refill-
… and you got to get that-
If you don’t get it, you’re going to the streets.
… right, and then you come back, repeat, money, money, money.
Most of your clients are family members who are seeking you out-
… after the death of a loved one?
Absolutely. That’s exactly it.
Or, if there’s ongoing issues, what kind of issues would the individual have if they survive the addiction but have… What type of medical issues are we looking at?
You know what? We really haven’t gone down that road yet. I mean, every single case we have is a death case.
… and I think that those cases are common because I think that this addiction has destroyed lives-
… and there are a lot of people out there that are still living that have lost everything, and so it really just becomes a little niche where you got to figure out how to take that case to the next level, but I think those are cases, too. We just haven’t gone there yet because there’s just not enough of us doing it.
How are they defending these cases?
They… You know what the interesting part is that-
I’m sure you’re seeing the same firms who are defending these cases-
… the interesting part is that until recently they really didn’t understand it, and so now they’re understanding them. We’re settling a lot of them.
We haven’t tried one yet-
… but we’ve had some really nice results-
You mentioned— we were talking before that you have a few separate trial-
Okay, and those are possibly going in the next year-
Yeah, could be.
… but who knows.
Who knows, but you know what? That’s what puts the hammer to them, you know? If they’re going to settle-
Of course, if you’re not willing to try cases, as you know in your profession-
… there’s no bite to the bark. You can bark all day long. No one really give-
… no one cares.
I’ll keep my language clean for this. It was about to get a little bit off cuff there. Tell me, is there anything more you’d like to tell the audience about these cases? How do get ahold of you?
Well, we have a national number. It’s 833-OD-DRUGS.
That’s a good number.
Yeah, so that’s anywhere in the country. It comes right to our call center.
I’ll take every one of those calls and basically we have a little outline as to the questions we ask. Obviously, it’s got to be within the statute of limitations. The death has to occur either by the drugs that are prescribed or the person has to have been cut off abruptly and gone right to the street and passed away. That’s the criteria we start to look for. Then, we backpedal and get all of the records, and once we get the records-
There is no outcome, right? When somebody gets cut off, they’re going right to the streets, correct?
They’re going right to the streets because, I mean, it’s a heroin-
It’s a full-blown addiction.
… yeah, a full-blown addiction. Right.
No good outcome.
This is scary. All right, so that’s Jim Magazine of Lucas Magazine, and it’s called Larson Magazine in Illinois?
Yeah, it’s Larson Magazine in Illinois, and that’s the national opiate firm.
One more time the number?
How do I find you on the internet?
That’s all… That’s easy as I said. All right, great. It was a pleasure seeing you as usual.
Thank you for having me.
Great trial lawyer, Jim. You want to tell them a little about your practice before we get off?
Well, our practice here in Florida is a personal injury practice, just like yours, Matt-
15 years now.
… right. Car crashes, catastrophic injuries.
We used to a lot of nursing home practice here-
That’s going to die down, correct?
Yeah, I mean, when the nursing homes really don’t have to carry insurance, it makes it very difficult to get justice for your clients. We don’t really do the opiate litigation here and it’s because doctors really don’t have to carry insurance here.
You know, and as you well know, litigating med-mal cases are expensive-
… and it’s hard-
… incredibly expensive.
… you know to tell a family — right. It’s hard to tell a family that you’re really going to walk away with nothing for the loss of your child after all the expenses. That’s kind of where our focus is in these different areas because the doctors carry really good insurance and we’re able to get a good recovery for the clients.
Excellent. How do we get ahold of you here in the State of Florida?
Excellent. That’s Lucas Magazine. Fantastic firm. There’s enough work out there for all of us, so that’s why I don’t view you as a competitor, and Jim’s a fantastic trial lawyer and a good friend. Well, that wraps up another episode of The Dolman Law Group Podcast. Thanks again. I really appreciate you-
Thanks for having me.
… Jim for being on here. Take care, now.
💡 Meet Your Host 💡
Title: Partner at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
Specialty: Matt is a nationally recognized insurance and personal injury attorney and focuses much of his practice on the litigation of catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases throughout Florida.
💡 Featured Guest 💡
Name: Jim Magazine, Esq.
Title: Attorney at Larson Magazine and Owner of Magazine Law Group
Specialty: Jim is a Florida Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer and is a Martindale Hubbell AV-rated attorney. He is licensed to practice law in Florida and is also admitted to practice at the Appellate level and admitted to the United States Supreme Court. In addition to representing injured clients, Jim is involved with the National Opiate Litigation Team.
🔑 Relevant Resources 🔑
- Larson | Magazine
- Larson Magazine’s number: Tel:833-633-7847
- Magazine Law Group
- Magazine Law Group’s number: Tel:727-499-9900
- Understanding the Epidemic
The insights and views presented in “David vs. Goliath” are for general information purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. The information presented is not a substitute for consulting with an attorney. Nor does tuning in to this podcast constitute an attorney-client relationship of any kind. Any case result information provided on any portion of this podcast should not be understood as a promise of any particular result in a future case. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers: Big firm results, small firm personal attention.