Just Ask Gonzo: Update on Stalcup v. Medicine Shoppe for son's overdose death

By Steve Gonzalez | Jan 11, 2006

Q: I wish you would update the story about the pharmacy being sued by a boy's mother. I would be forever grateful if you could advise me the current status of the case filed by Tami C. Stalcup against Medicine Shoppe pharmacy.

Janice Szczepanski
Winnemucca, Nevada

Gonzo: Right now this case file is sitting on Madison County Chief Judge Edward Ferguson's desk after Circuit Judge Don Weber denied Stalcup's motion for a new judge.

Weber denied the motion on Jan. 6, after Medicine Shoppe and owner Michael Cleary objected to the motion for a new judge.

Stalcup filed the motion on Dec. 21, 2005. She had previously filed a motion to substitute a judge which was granted in January of 2004.

Under the Illinois Compiled Statutes, each party in any civil action is entitled to one substitution of judge as a matter of right. If an attorney represents three plaintiffs in one case, he may file a motion for each plaintiff.

The motion must be made before the judge makes a ruling that addresses the merits of a case and the party filing the motion does not need to state any reason for filing the motion.

A judge almost always has to grant the motion, however if the party has already taken a change before, or he feels that the motion is a stall tactic, the judge may deny the motion.

Tami C. Stalcup, whose son Justin Michael Stalcup died Feb. 4, 2004, claims Medicine Shoppe owner Michael J. Cleary failed to adequately store and keep proper inventory and accounting of narcotics. She is seeking damages of at least $50,000.

She also is suing Justin's girlfriend and former employee of the store, Jodi Lynn Sandbach, who is currently serving a three-year probation sentence for theft and unlawful delivery of a controlled substance. She entered a guilty plea in August 2005.

Stalcup claims Cleary inadequately trained personnel to handle narcotic medications, failed to supervise non-professional employees working under him and allowed non-authorized personnel to have access to narcotic medications.

As a result of Cleary's alleged negligence, Stalcup claims narcotic medications, including Oxycontin, were taken from the pharmacy without a prescription, and the medications taken from the pharmacy were "given or sold" to Justin.

Stalcup also is seeking damages from Medicine Shoppe Inc. alleging it failed to take steps to ensure narcotic medicines were properly stored and secured by its franchise, and failing to take appropriate steps to ensure that its franchise employed appropriately trained and certified personnel to have access to and handle narcotic medicines.

Stalcup is represented by Hugh M. Talbert of Alton.

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