Dr. Samuel K. Yue and the Minnesota Pain Center were found not responsible for a Ham Lake man’s claimed opioid addiction by a seven-member Ramsey County jury after a six-hour deliberation.
The ruling came in a medical malpractice trial on Wednesday evening, casting doubt on the extent to which doctors may be held liable for unforeseen outcomes after prescribing or overprescribing opioids to their patients.
When he put longtime patient Michael Faulhaber on morphine and oral opioids in 2003, Yue, the chief executive officer of the St. Paul-based pain center, argued through his attorneys that he followed industry standards of care.
Faulhaber was a patient of Yue’s until 2016, when he and his wife, Yvonne, launched a lawsuit in 2020 after experiencing “debilitating” symptoms. Each plaintiff requested damages of up to $50,000.
Medical expert witnesses for the defense said at trial that Faulhaber had severe and long-standing psychiatric disorders, but that these were not necessarily proof of opioid addiction, based on their assessment of his medical records.
On Thursday, a call to Faulhaber’s defense team went unanswered.
Minnesota is one of many states that began suing opioid producers such as Purdue Pharma in 2018, eventually expanding their claims to include the Sackler family and corporate consultants McKinsey & Co. Inc.
Multi-state settlements with those and other businesses, including Johnson & Johnson, have garnered states billions of dollars to far, with Minnesota alone receiving more than $300 million. Additional state-led cases have been filed against opioid producers Insys Therapeutics Inc. and Mallinckrodt, both of which have declared bankruptcy in the face of intense legal pressure.