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Doctor’s over-prescribed pain killers ruined patient’s health, marriage: plaintiffs








St. Louis County


St. Louis City Circuit Court

Injury Type(s):

other-loss of consortium

Case Type:

Medical Malpractice – Negligent Treatment, Prescription and Medication

Case Name:

Brian Koon, Michelle Koon v. Henry D. Walden MD, Tenet Health System SL Inc, and St Louis University,
No. 1422-CC01258


June 28, 2016



Brian Koon, 

Michelle Koon (Female)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Timothy M. Cronin;
The Simon Law Firm, P.C.;
Saint Louis,
Brian Koon, Michelle Koon ■ John G. Simon;
The Simon Law Firm, P.C.;
Saint Louis,
Brian Koon, Michelle Koon

Plaintiff Expert(s):

Mary Fitzgibbons; Ph.D.; Psychiatry; Creve Coeur,
MO called by:
Timothy M. Cronin, John G. Simon


Henry D. Walden, 

St Louis University, 

Tenet Health System LS Inc.

Defense Attorney(s):

Paul N. Venker;
Williams Venker & Sanders;
Saint Louis,
Henry D. Walden, St Louis University, Tenet Health System LS Inc.

Defendant Expert(s):

Erik Gunderson;
Addiction Behavior;
VA called by:
Paul N. Venker ■ Anthony Guarino;
Pain Management;
St. Louis,
MO called by:
Paul N. Venker


Between 2008 and 2012, plaintiff Brian Koon, 45, an HVAC maintenance worker, alleged he became addicted to prescription painkillers that were prescribed to him over the course of four years by his primary care physician, Henry D. Walden. Koon sued Walden for medical malpractice. Koon also sued Walden’s employers, Tenet Health System SL Inc., and St. Louis University, claiming they were vicariously liable for his actions. Koon’s counsel claimed that Koon presented to Walden in 2008 with symptoms of pain in his lower back. Koon claimed Walden prescribed nearly 40,000 pain prescription pills between 2008 and 2012. He claimed that at one point he was taking 50 pills a day. Koon claimed that he found himself taking three different opiods, OxyContin, Oxycodone, and Vicodin. Further, Koon claimed he had to enter a drug rehabilitation program for opioid addiction, due to the ever-increasing amount of prescription painkillers he was taking. Koon claimed that according to the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) guidelines, the average daily dose of morphine-equivalent opioids should not exceed 100 milligrams, but his dosage increased from an equivalent of 49 milligrams up to 1,555 milligrams every day. Defense counsel for Walden denied Koon’s allegations of medical malpractice with regard to prescription pain medication. Walden claimed he prescribed the painkillers because Koon needed them for his pain. Prior to trial, Tenet Health System SL Inc. was dismissed from the case.


Koon claimed he became a drug addict, as result of the high dosages of prescription pain killers he consumed. He claimed he had to go into a drug rehabilitation program and that his addiction destroyed his health, and relationships with family and friends. Koon claimed he and his wife are divorcing as a result of the consequences of his addiction and claimed he was in a zombie-like state most of the period of his prescription drug addiction. Koon’s expert psychiatrist opined that Koon was addicted to the prescription painkillers. Koon sought to recover compensatory damages. Koon’s wife, Michelle Koon, joined the action on a consortium claim. Koon also sought punitive damages against Walden. Koon’s counsel argued for punitive damages to send a message, nationally that "this is not going to happen anymore." Koon’s counsel noted that the country is currently in the grip of an opioid epidemic, due to the drugs being dangerously overprescribed by primary care doctors for simple ailments such as back pain. The defense’s addiction expert opined that Koon was dependent on the prescription painkillers, but was not addicted to them. He opined that dependence and addicted are two different things. Defense counsel argued that Walden is not one of the pill-pushing doctors responsible for the opioid epidemic, and punitive damages were not warranted. The defense argued that Walden prescribed the painkillers because Koon needed them for his pain.


The jury found Walden liable. The jury determined Brian Koon’s compensatory damages totaled $1.4 million. The jury determined that Michelle Koon’s damages totaled $1.2 million. The jury also determined that punitive damages were warranted. The jury assessed $15 million in punitive damages against Walden. Hence, the total award was $17.6 million.

Michelle Koon: $1,200,000 Personal Injury: compensatory damages

Trial Information:


Michael Warren Noble

Trial Length:


Trial Deliberations:


Editor’s Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiffs’ counsel. Defense counsel did not respond to the reporter’s phone calls.