The Houston Chronicle reported the $10 million jury verdict against Family Medi Clinic in The Woodlands for an overdose death of Michael Skorpenske who died two days after his only visit to the clinic where he received a prescription for three potent drugs: hydrocodone, xanax and soma.  He had sought help there for chronic pain he suffered from a motorcycle injury and a fall at a petrochemical plant.

The clinic’s director, Dr. Maurice Conte, had prescribed this same drug combo — known as the "holy trinity" — at least 3,800 times between 2006 and 2007 at more than 17 pain area clinics that he then oversaw, records showed.

Jurors were hoping the verdict deters other "pill mills" that have turned Houston into a national hub for prescription drug abuse. 

"Our verdict shows how much our community is against these pill mills and wants things to change," said juror Lauren Simmons, after finding gross negligence led to the overdose death.

Another juror, Tim Bammel, agreed, saying the verdict should discourage others who might be improperly churning out the addictive drugs that killed Skorpenske.

 Skorpenske’s sister, Sandra Smith, referring to more than 1,200 pill deaths recorded in the last two years, says "the jury has given a lot of hope to other families of those who are dying all over the place from this."


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