Santa Barbara Judge Colleen Sterne is allowing a wrongful-death case to proceed against two area pharmacies — and four South Coast pharmacists — who dispensed a combination of powerful and highly addictive painkillers to Roscoe Steve Meadows, who died of an overdose on September 20, 2009, that had been prescribed by Dr. Julio Diaz, a k a the “Candyman.” Diaz was arrested by federal authorities for drug trafficking in January 2012 and has been implicated in the drug-overdose deaths of 11 people.
Meadows’s three children sued Sansum Pharmacy and San Ysidro Pharmacy, alleging they should have more closely monitored the quantity of the painkillers their father was taking. Attorneys for the defendants argued that Meadows’s children waited too long to file their lawsuit, contending the statute of limitations allows only one year from the time of death to file. Judge Sterne rejected this argument, finding in favor of the heirs, who asserted — among many things — they weren’t given cause to wonder about the quality of their father’s care until Diaz was arrested in 2012, nearly three years after their father’s death, and federal agents showed them his medical files for the first time.
Attorneys for the pharmacies noted the death certificate — issued in December 2009 — concluded that Meadows “consumed a toxic amount of medication” and that he died of “multiple drug ingestion.” That, they argued, should have put his heirs on notice. In her ruling, Judge Sterne found that the statute of limitations issue was sufficiently cloudy that it should not derail the case.