Three doctors who wrote pain medication prescriptions for the couple convicted in last June's Medford pharmacy murders are named as defendants in a wrongful death lawsuit filed in State Supreme Court by the family of one of the four victims.
The suit, which alleges negligence in the death of pharmacy employee Jennifer Mejia, names doctors Stan Li, Eric Jacobson and Mark Kaufman, along with Kaufman's and Jacobson's medical practices; the couple, David Laffer and his wife, Melinda Brady, and the Suffolk County Police Department. Mejia, 17, was a cashier at the Haven Drugs pharmacy. She was fatally shot June 19 by Laffer as he robbed the store of more than 10,000 painkillers.
Antonia Mejia, the teen's mother, is suing for an unspecified amount on behalf of her daughter's estate.
The county police department and Kaufman declined to comment. Lawyers for Jacobson and Li disputed the claims made in the suit.
Mejia, of East Patchogue, speaking through tears and translated by her daughter Lesly, said Laffer's and Brady's prosecution last year left the family feeling something could have been done to prevent the shootings, which also killed pharmacist Raymond Ferguson, 45, and customers Jaime Taccetta, 33, and Bryon Sheffield, 71.
"The main reason we came to this point is because the doctors fed his [Laffer's] addiction -- they know what they are creating when they write these prescriptions," Mejia said, referring to painkillers prescribed to Brady and Laffer.
"The doctors are also the only ones among the players to profit from their actions," the family's attorney, Ray Negron, said Friday. He added that the family hoped their action could result in more pressure on doctors found to be overprescribing pain medications.
In February, Taccetta's relatives filed a $20 million lawsuit against Li, Haven Drugs and a drug company.
The Mejia suit, filed last week, alleges the doctors prescribed "an excessive number" of medications to the couple without ensuring they weren't at the same time getting them elsewhere, and that the doctors just wrote prescriptions without treating the cause of the pain.
It says the doctors either "knew or should have known" Laffer and Brady, or both, were addicted; failed to counsel the pair on the dangers of pain medication use; that their treatment deviated from "accepted medical practices;" and that their treatment was a direct cause of Laffer's behavior at Haven Drugs.
State records show 30 of the 36 painkiller prescriptions filled by Laffer and Brady between January and June 2011 came from Kaufman, Jacobson or Li.
Li's lawyer, Raymond Belair, called the claims "baseless" and noted that Li had "appropriately discharged" Brady before the shootings for noncompliance with his instructions. Laffer had not behaved suspiciously when he was last seen by Li, Belair said. "Nor did any New York State prescription narcotics records then show any inappropriate drug activity," he added.
"Dr. Li is a sincere and competent physician, certified in his specialty, who was acting in good faith. The tragic events could not have [been] foreseen based on anything which Dr. Li knew or could have known," Belair said.
Jacobson's lawyer, John G. Martin, said his client sympathizes with the Mejias and "understands their grief."
Martin said the appropriate place to answer the claims was in court, but added: "The attempt to assign to Dr. Jacobson responsibility for the heinous acts of David Laffer and Melinda Brady is not logical and is not remotely supportable under the law."