Nashville at law: Doc sues pharmacies for revealing meds probe

Also: Rape victim threatened with lawsuit; bankrupt restaurateur sues ex-CFO [From our print edition featured in Monday's City Paper]

A Middle Tennessee physician has revealed she has been under investigation on suspicion of overprescribing painkillers — by suing four pharmacies that revealed she has been suspected of overprescribing painkillers.

Joyce Brown, who operates pain-management clinics in Nashville and Smyrna, filed separate lawsuits on March 25 against CVS Pharmacy Inc., K Mart Corp., Walgreen Co. and Wal-Mart Associates Inc. The complaints claim that pharmacists at local units of the respective national drugstore chains have turned away patients with prescriptions from Brown, telling them she was under legal investigation.

These are not slander lawsuits: The pharmacists were telling the truth. “The local police in Smyrna and the DEA have investigated her practice,” said attorney Allen Woods of the Law Office of Woods and Woods in Nashville, representing the doctor. “But to the best of my knowledge, she has not been indicted on anything at this point.”

Instead, Brown alleges the drugstore personnel interfered with her business and invaded her privacy by revealing the law-enforcement suspicions of her activity. The information the stores gave out “gave unreasonable publicity” to her private life, she says, and “caused significant humiliation, stress and mental anguish.”

Each lawsuit seeks $250,000 in compensatory damages as well as an unspecified amount in punitive damages.

Brown previously sued a group of Smyrna police officers in Nashville’s U.S. District Court last October, claiming they were harassing her medical practice because they suspected her of improperly prescribing pain meds. That case remains pending.

“She’s a pain management therapist,” Woods told last week. “She is an earnest believer that controlled substances are the best way to treat those types of conditions. I’m sure some people characterize her as just some sort of drug dealer, but that’s not the case.”

The lawyer said Brown is “distinguished in her field” but is in a controversial line of medicine. “It’s a therapy people are sometimes going to be suspicious of, and she has been targeted and harassed because of that,” Woods said.

None of the defendant companies would comment when contacted last week.

Other legal news of late:

Davidson County Chancery Court

Jane Doe v. Brentwood Patrol Inc. Filed March 11. Six years after the man convicted of raping her began serving an 18-year prison term, a Nashville woman says the lawyer for a local security firm has threatened to sue her unless she pays it $1 million.

The woman herself sued to keep Brentwood Patrol Inc. from revealing her identity if it follows through with its threat of litigation. She says the company is trying to recover the proceeds of a settlement it paid her after the 2004 guilty pleas of Loren Janosky on kidnapping and rape charges.

Janosky was working for Brentwood Patrol as a uniformed guard on the night of Aug. 3, 2002 when the rape occurred. He later admitted he had pulled over the woman’s car, handcuffed her and taken her to the Sequoia Swim & Tennis Club in Forest Hills, where he raped her.

The woman says Nashville attorney David T. Zager sent her a “demand package” on behalf of the company last November. In the envelope she found an unfiled draft lawsuit that named her as defendant, together with statements that accused her of “lying about being raped,” she says in her court filing.

Included in the package were “hand-written letters ostensibly bearing the dates from May 4, 2003 to Jan. 7, 2009, purporting to be from Ms. Doe to Mr. Janosky in prison,” the woman states. “The demand package implicitly threatens to expose Ms. Doe’s identity unless she pays Brentwood Patrol the sum of $1 million.” Doe insists the letters are “false and forged.”

Chancellor Carol McCoy promptly issued a temporary restraining order, forbidding Brentwood Patrol and Zager from naming the woman, after Zager told the court his client did not object to it.

As of now, Brentwood Patrol has not filed suit against the woman. Zager issued the following statement to last week: “We are investigating the factual allegations and circumstances of this matter. Brentwood Patrol Inc. is sensitive to the rights of all parties involved and has no comment at this time.”

Plaintiff’s attorneys: John O. Belcher, Jordan S. Keller and Catherine L. Butcher of Lassiter, Tidwell, Davis, Keller & Hogan PLLC.

SouthEast Waffles LLC v. Rebecca Sullivan. Filed March 15. The bankruptcy estate of Nashville-based SouthEast Waffles sues former CFO Becky Sullivan over the financial irregularities that preceded its downfall in August 2008.

The complaint may represent a conclusion by the now-defunct company’s managers that former CEO Jim Shaub was not involved in the $3.7 million check-kiting scheme that helped sink the restaurant company — contrary to accusations made by creditor SunTrust Bank. SunTrust sued both Shaub and Sullivan last June, and each blamed the other in responses filed to that lawsuit, which remains pending.

The new complaint, however, makes no mention of Shaub at all. “I’m disappointed that they would choose to sue her and not include him in the lawsuit, given the assistance she’s provided to SunTrust Bank and to SouthEast Waffles,” said her lawyer, Peter Strianse of Tune, Entrekin & White. “It makes no sense to me.”

Plaintiff’s attorneys: Robert J. Mendes, Allison E. Batts and Cheyanne K. Mahoney of MGLaw PLLC.