This week has been full of interesting developments and unexpected turns. Over the last few years I had made several attempts at finding an attorney to take my case with regards to how the benzodizepines had damaged my health. I couldn't figure out why I kept getting one attorney after the other that wouldn't even talk to me. I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that it just wasn't going to happen. I also couldn't figure out why there were so few cases being taken when so many people were so devastatingly ill.
Then a couple of weeks ago, I came across a woman that was working with the Benzodiazepine Information Coalition, a non-profit organization designed to help inform the public about the dangers associated with these drugs and how to slowly wean off the drug. I had called her to get other information about a bill being introduced into Congress that would force the manufacturers of these drugs to use warning labels, and limit the amount of time these drugs could be prescribed.
We began sharing information about what we had both gone through with benzodiazepines, and she mentioned that they had an attorney on their staff from Texas that had won several benzo cases. She showed me his contact information on their website, and told me I should try to give him a call. She felt I really had nothing to lose. I gave it some thought, mainly because I felt I had finally put the whole thing to rest. I was feeling better yet I was still having some pretty annoying symptoms, and was back to recording music even if it wasn't at the pace I was hoping it would be. I figured that I would give it a shot and just not have any expectations about it.
When I spoke with the attorney, he explained that I may have a case based on the fact that I had been declared unfit to handle my own affairs by disability when my case went through in 2002, and I had to assign a legal representative to handle my financial affairs and cash my checks. I was in pretty bad shape after the head injury, but even then, I kept hearing from many doctors that I shouldn't be in the shape I was in given that the injuries were not super severe. My MRI all looked good, yet I was still very weak and very sick.
In some states if you are found mentally ill or unable to help yourself, there are some laws that exclude the statute of limitations under these circumstances. Even though the disability ruling was later removed, there was also another incident where I got super crazy while I was tapering the benzos in 2014. I had gone into a mental health facility begging for help because I just didn't understand what was happening to me. When they told me I would have to fill out paperwork and come back for another appointment in two weeks, I completely lost it and blew up at the social worker.
I don't recall all of the details, but some how I ended up with SMI status. SMI stands for seriously mentally ill, and in the state of Arizona you are suppose to receive other benefits when you have this status. I was totally unaware they had given this status to me until I went to a doctor's appointment, and they told me my insurance didn't cover the visit. Come to find out, they just changed my insurance over to another program without every notifying me.
After I had completed my withdrawal in 2016, I was able to remove the status after two years without having to see a doctor, but the attorney said there might be some question as to where one mental health determination may have left off and the other one began. This might be enough where the statute might not apply in my case.
The attorney said I would have to find an attorney in Arizona that knew about statute of limitation issues, and they would have to agree to serve as co-counsel on the case for him to take it on. I had already called about every attorney in the state of Arizona prior to this, so I wasn't real optimistic about the possibility of finding one that might agree this time.
I made a few calls and got a lot of negative feedback, so I just let it go and decided that it wasn't meant to be this time either. I had apparently forgotten that I left a message at one attorney's office, and he called me back a couple days later. He explained a little about some Supreme Court cases he had won regarding statute of limitation issues and took some information about the case along with the attorney's number in Texas. They both spoke with each other and agreed to at least look at my medical records to see if I had anything they could pursue. This was the first time in almost two years that I had been able to get even remotely this far. Still, I was cautious because I was still uncertain that this wouldn't be too complicated for anyone to put together.
They also told me they couldn't try this as a product liability case because the drug companies had come forward in 1993 stating they knew the drug caused problems in many people. This took the liability out of their hands and put it in the doctors court. Since the doctors had been informed, this meant that if they didn't tell the patients, then it was their liability. So, this meant they would have to pursue this case as medical liability case, and that it might be hard to do because there were so many doctors involved that I had seen. There were other doctors, but only one clinic that had continued to prescribe the drug for about eight years without informing me of the dangers. They just continued to increased the dose. The drug companies by now had also passed laws where you could not sue for generic drugs.
So, at the very least this explained a lot about why attorney's were continually passing on benzo cases. First, because of the statute of limitations which is crazy, because by the time you get off of the drug and are even remotely capable of putting these pieces together, the statute has lapsed in most cases. Secondly, most insurance companies now only prescribe generics leaving very few cases that are able to go after the companies that manufacture the name brands. Lastly, most attorneys don't like to try doctors because they are in a tough place with inheriting benzo patients that don't want to come off of the drug, so they keep prescribing it to keep them from going through withdrawal. Big surprise that Big Pharma wasn't one step ahead of us on this one with their lofty attorneys.
This sets us up for some serious problems outside of the obvious, that most people who are sick from these drugs, are just being wiped out with absolutely no way to go after compensation for their injuries. It also creates a huge problem with our medical model in general. We have all of these people sick from benzos running to their doctor for help, and they don't know the benzos are making them sick because the doctors aren't going to admit they knew anything. This runs up a huge tab for the insurance companies meaning the cost gets passed on to you and me. Meanwhile, the drug companies are sitting pretty and get to keep making their all their poisons to sell.
When all of this information finally soaked in over the week, I felt even more betrayed than I had after I first came off the drugs. Could this really be happening? Had greed and profit really become the only motivating factor for selling us this legal drug cartel called healthcare? The amazing thing is that they have been able to get away with it, even now with all of the information that is coming out about all of these psychiatric medications. We need to take back our healthcare system with better education and programs to help these people. Evil wins if we don't take a stand.