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Washington DOC Agrees to Pay $38,000 in Too-Much-Medicine Suit

On November 19, 2008, the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) agreed to pay $38,000 to a woman who was improperly administered her seizure medication.

The settlement resulted after Cindi J. Heihn, a prisoner at the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Gig Harbor, filed suit against the DOC in Superior Court. Heihn suffered a grand mal seizure as a result of an overdose of Tiagabine, a powerful anticonvulsant that was prescribed to help stabilize her mood.

Instead of gradually increasing Heihn’s dosage of Tiagabine so she could develop tolerance for the drug, DOC medical staff started her out with 16mg of Tiagabine, which was too large a dose. Heihn claimed the medical staff was negligent because the drug was known to cause seizures if not properly administered.

Heihn was hospitalized from November 10 to November 15, 2004 as a result of the seizure. She sought damages for medical costs, loss of enjoyment of life, deformity, disfigurement, disability, mental anguish, and pain and suffering.

Of the $38,000 settlement, $10,771.85 was deducted to satisfy two outstanding criminal obligations that Heihn owed. She was represented by Evy McElmeel and Fred Diamondstone, two Seattle area attorneys. See: Heihn v. State of Washington, Superior Court for Pierce County (WA), Case No. 07-2-13942-2.

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