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Toffolonis sue Astin & "3 unnamed drug distributors" for wrongful death of Nancy & Daniel Benoit


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http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/fay...or_lawsuit.html

 

Family sues wrestler Chris Benoit’s doctor

Wrongful death suit filed in federal court in Newnan

 

By MEGAN MATTEUCCI

 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

 

A Carrollton doctor who prescribed drugs to professional wrestler Chris Benoit should pay for the lives of the wrestler’s deceased wife and son, the victims’ family says.

 

On Wednesday, the family filed a wrongful death suit in U.S. District Court against Dr. Phil Carroll Astin III and three unnamed drug distributors.

 

The suit claims the doctor and distributors prescribed drugs that caused Benoit to strangle his wife Nancy and smother 7-year-old son Daniel inside their Fayette County home in 2007.

 

Astin is now serving a 10-year prison sentence for illegally dispensing drugs.

 

Astin’s lawyer, Natasha Perdew Silas, could not be immediately reached for comment.

 

The suit claims that Astin prescribed painkillers, steroids and muscle relaxants to Benoit from June 2000 to June 23, 2007 – the day Benoit killed his family and then hanged himself.

 

The suit alleges that Astin has a responsibility to monitor Benoit and warn him of the side effects of the drugs. The suit also includes an affidavit by a veteran Long Island sports medicine doctor, who reviewed Benoit’s medical records.

 

The physician, Dr. Gary Wadler, found that Astin prescribed Benoit the medication without proper diagnosis or monitoring. The drugs ultimately caused Benoit’s “mental, physical, emotional and/or behavioral health to deteriorate to extent he killed” his family, Wadler said.

 

“It is my opinion, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty and medical probability, that Astin was negligent in his care and treatment of Benoit,” wrote Wadler, a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s board.

 

The suit seeks financial damages to cover the “full value” of the deceased lives, along with money for pain, suffering and expenses. The suit requests a jury trial.

 

Nancy Benoit’s parents, Maureen and Paul Toffoloni of Florida, filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Newnan. The Toffoloni’s handle Nancy and Daniel Benoit’s estate.

 

Earlier this year, Astin pleaded guilty to writing 175 illegal prescriptions for 19 patients, including two that died of drug overdoses. Federal prosecutors argued that Astin illegally prescribed drugs such as Percocet, Oxycontin, Xanax and Lorcet to professional wrestlers who eventually became addicted to them.

With Astin broke and in prison, I'm curious to see who the "three unnamed drug distributors" are.

 

Meanwhile, amidst a column from a day earlier the brings back the "Benoit dealt drugs" speculation, Irv Muchnick brings up an important point:

 

Under Georgia law, the families must file wrongful-death civil lawsuits within two years of the crime.

So if Chris Benoit's parents and/or his surviving children are filing their own suit (wrongful death against Astin and/or WWE for his suicide?), it'll happen within the next two weeks.
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It's interesting that the Toffoloni family didn't name WWE as a codefendant. You could certainly make the case that WWE was negligent in their treatment of Benoit as their employee and I'd have thought that everyone who was negligent in someway would be named. The throw all the mud against the wall to see what sticks philosophy.

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It's interesting that the Toffoloni family didn't name WWE as a codefendant. You could certainly make the case that WWE was negligent in their treatment of Benoit as their employee and I'd have thought that everyone who was negligent in someway would be named. The throw all the mud against the wall to see what sticks philosophy.

The word is that they didn't name WWE as co-defendants because they didn't want to deal with Jerry McDevitt digging up dirt on the situation. The Torch stated: "The potential exposure of more information against Chris Benoit could be too much for the family to endure two years after the Benoit family tragedy."

 

No idea if that's true or not.

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Ok, I somehow missed that the Benoit as dealer speculation in the Muchnick column linked above was by Jerry McDevitt:

 

McDevitt added a point that could have had a chilling effect on any party tempted to file wrongful-death litigation as a kind of fishing expedition.

 

Dr. Astin, McDevitt noted, was charged with not only prescribing an illegitimate amount of drugs to both Chris and Nancy Benoit, but also "with conspiracy with some of the recipients of his prescriptions to further distribute the drugs. As Michael Benoit surely knows, since he is the executor of the estate, the house where the murders were committed had no mortgage. Instead, the builder was paid by a series of payments totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, and all payments were consistently made by Nancy Benoit from various accounts."

 

The clear message -- which should have been obvious anyway -- was that if WWE were hauled into court, it would defend itself aggressively, and such a defense inevitably would further drag Chris and Nancy's names through the mud. The same message, in more subtle form, may have been behind the brief campaign by WWE to promote Chris and Nancy's concern over little Daniel's medical condition as Chris's main stressor before he snapped.

Anyway, the lawsuit filing: http://muchnick.net/toffolonicomplaint.pdf

 

Irv on the suit: http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/Benoit...12/9772341.html

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Meanwhile, amidst a column from a day earlier the brings back the "Benoit dealt drugs" speculation, Irv Muchnick brings up an important point:

 

Under Georgia law, the families must file wrongful-death civil lawsuits within two years of the crime.

So if Chris Benoit's parents and/or his surviving children are filing their own suit (wrongful death against Astin and/or WWE for his suicide?), it'll happen within the next two weeks.

 

I would be surprised if GA law trumps the Federal statute of limitations if it's longer. The recently filed lawsuit was in federal court anyway.

 

John

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