While Julio Diaz — the former Santa Barbara doctor known as the “Candyman” — awaits his sentencing on 11 federal drug-trafficking charges, the civil cases against him and the pharmacies that filled his patients’ prescriptions continue to make their way through the courts.
The families of Adam Montgomery and Steven Meadows — two of the 11 Diaz patients who died in a five-year period — have settled their wrongful-death lawsuits with the pharmacies, said their lawyer Rich Collins, who couldn’t discuss the terms of the settlements. A third lawsuit, filed by the husband of deceased Elizabeth Shull, continues, Collins added, noting that a fourth lawsuit filed by surviving patient Courtney Canter has dismissed charges against the pharmacies. Lawyers for the pharmacies involved — Sansum Clinic Pharmacy, San Ysidro Pharmacy, LM Caldwell, and Medicine Shoppe — didn’t respond to requests for comment.
All four cases also seek a combined $20 million from Diaz, but those lawsuits are more symbolic than anything, Collins said, as Diaz hasn’t responded to the charges and already used the remainder of his known assets ($30,000) to post bail. Diaz’s Goleta home — where he stayed on house arrest before entering federal custody — has since undergone foreclosure.
Montgomery died in 2011, when he was 27. A construction worker, he went to Diaz for back pain when he was 24, Collins said. Over the next few years, he would be prescribed a combined 24,500 pills (a mix of painkillers and anti-anxiety meds). Meadows died in 2009, at age 49. He worked as a laborer and also sought treatment for back pain. Diaz prescribed him a mix of painkillers, to which he quickly became addicted. Shull passed away in 2010 after being treated by Diaz for more than a year for her degenerative disc disease.
Canter, now 28, was a Brooks Institute student when she went to Diaz for her knee and back pain. She soon became addicted to the drugs, and while under the influence on Christmas Eve 2012, she fell down a flight of stairs and cracked her skull open; she now suffers cognitive defects and speech problems, Collins said. “It was sad because everything seemed so promising before she got connected with Dr. Diaz.”
Diaz, arrested in 2012, pleaded guilty to the 11 criminal charges in January under a deal that could send him to prison for 200 years and stick him with $10 million in fines. His sentencing is slated for July 21.