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Local News

Families Settle with Pharmacies in Patient Overdose Deaths as Julio Diaz Awaits Sentencing

Former Santa Barbara doctor is scheduled to return to court next month after pleading guilty to overprescribing narcotics

Two families who lost loved ones to prescription drug overdose have settled with local pharmacies and their pharmacists.

Julio Diaz
Julio Diaz

Julio Diaz, the Santa Barbara doctor facing federal charges of overprescribing who is allegedly linked to 11 patient deaths, most likely will be sentenced next month for allegedly prescribing “profound” doses of drugs, including strong painkillers such as OxyContin, Fentanyl and Dilaudid.

He pleaded guilty in January and is scheduled for sentencing July 17, when witnesses who may include family members of victims could take the stand in the Central District Court in Santa Ana.

As Diaz's case has worked its way through court, several families filed lawsuits against the local pharmacies that filled the prescriptions for his patients.

Micaiah, Mishaela and Krista Meadows sued Diaz in the 2009 death of their father, Goleta resident Roscoe Steven Meadows.

Sansum Clinic Pharmacy Inc. and its owner, Steven Cooley, as well as San Ysidro Pharmacy and pharmacist Raymond Hoyt were all listed as defendants on their suit.

The Meadows family settled with Sansum, Cooley, San Ysidro and Hoyt in March of this year, according to their attorney, Rich Collins.

Heidi and Robert Montgomery of Solvang also have settled with four pharmacies listed on their lawsuit, which alleges that Diaz’s prescriptions contributed to the death of their 24-year-old son, Adam Montgomery.

He died in November 2011, and was being prescribed an average of 63 prescription pills a day in the six weeks before his death, according to the affidavit.

The Montgomerys settled their case in October 2013 against the same pharmacies and individuals as the Meadows family, with the addition of the Medicine Shoppe and pharmacist Sanjiv Ballah as well as L.M. Caldwell Pharmacy and pharmacist Peter Caldwell.

The terms of both settlements were confidential, Collins said, and could not release any of the details.

The complaints filed by the families against Diaz will be entered as a default judgment, and Collins said Diaz never responded to their complaint. The court will have discretion on what the judgment amount will be in his case.

Collins said the settlements "were an empty thing" for the families, who will never see their loved ones again.

"Does it bring closure? Not really, because they never had the opportunity to confront Diaz in court," he said. "There isn't any closure for them at this point."

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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