Iowa Judge Says Wrongful Death Suit Can’t Name New Defendants

October 24, 2016

The family of a Des Moines, Iowa, woman who died of a prescription drug overdose is appealing a judge’s rejection of their motion seeking to name the doctor’s former health system as defendants.

Brandy Stoutenberg’s relatives originally blamed Dr. Daniel Baldi for her 2010 death, the Des Moines Register reported Saturday. The family pressed on with a lawsuit against him after Baldi was acquitted in 2014 of criminal counts of manslaughter for the deaths of nine patients, including Stoutenberg and Paul Gray, a founding member of the band Slipknot, who also died in 2010.

During Baldi’s criminal trial, another doctor testified that he had prescribed a powerful stimulant and anti-anxiety medication to Stoutenberg – testimony that jurors said helped shape their decision to acquit Baldi.

The Stoutenberg lawsuit was scheduled to go to trial Monday. But a judge dismissed it last month, noting that an expert hired by the family agreed with defense experts that the death was not Baldi’s fault. The family then sought to move forward with the lawsuit against his former health system, now known as UnityPoint.

But District Judge Douglas Staskal said it would be improper to allow a plaintiff to effectively switch targets six years after a death. The amended complaint “is in reality a completely new and different claim that substantially changes the issues in the case,” the judge said.

Under Iowa law, patients generally have two years after an injury occurs to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

A UnityPoint spokeswoman declined to comment to the newspaper. An attorney for Baldi, Guy Cook, said Friday that the former pain relief specialist “is grateful the truth came out.”

Several other lawsuits involving former Baldi patients have been settled for undisclosed amounts.

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