Stanley Laskowski, a 29-year-old war veteran, was diagnosed as having posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A physician’s assistant at Wilkes-Barre Veterans Medical Center (VA) prescribed Trazodone to help him sleep. Subsequently, a nurse confirmed the PTSD diagnosis, prescribed Clonazepam and Buproprion to lessen Laskowski’s irritability and anger, and referred him for psychotherapy. Over the next several weeks, VA staff adjusted Laskowski’s medication over the phone. The nurse also met with Laskowski and adjusted his medication further.
Laskowski later began self-medicating with Vicodin. He robbed a pharmacy, was arrested, and lost his job at a financial advisory firm.
Laskowski filed suit against the VA, alleging it failed to provide adequate treatment for his PTSD. Suit claimed the defendant should have sent him to a psychiatrist, prescribed a different antidepressant, and changed his medication in person, not over the phone.
The court awarded $3.7 million.
Citation: Laskowski v. Dept. of Vets. Affairs, No. 3:10-cv-00600 (M.D. Pa. Jan. 16, 2013).
Plaintiff counsel: Daniel T. Brier, Patrick A. Casey, and John B. Dempsey, all of Scranton, Pa.
Plaintiff experts: Robert L. Goldstein, psychiatry, New York City; and Harvey Dondershine, psychiatry, Palo Alto, Calif.
Defense expert: William M. Glazer, psychiatry, Key West, Fla.