Five years ago, 44-year-old, Theresa Ann Kincaid was found slumped on a recliner in her Port Richey home, dead of an accidental overdose of several prescription drugs, Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's records said.
Now, a Clearwater doctor with a troubled history, Jayam Krishna Iyer, 57, is battling two lawsuits linked to Kincaid's death.
One suit alleges that Iyer's negligence in prescribing medications led to Kincaid's premature death.
The other suit, filed by Iyer's insurer, Healthcare Underwriters Group, seeks to void Iyer's insurance policy, claiming she submitted an application with false information about a past criminal charge. Iyer asked the insurer to defend her in the Kincaid case, the suit said.
Iyer, who runs the Creative Health Center in Clearwater, which specializes in treating chronic pain, did not return two calls for comment. Neither did her attorneys in the cases.
Iyer, a co-defendant in the malpractice case, denied responsibility for Kincaid's death, court records show.
And last month, Iyer provided an explanation for the false information on her insurance application. Iyer admitted she signed the application. She also claimed her office manager, not she, marked an answer indicating Iyer had never been charged with a criminal offense, court records show. But Iyer had been charged with a crime in June 2000.
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Nine years ago, Iyer faced federal criminal charges after authorities accused her of illegally prescribing controlled substances to undercover operatives.
Iyer, who denied the allegations, pleaded not guilty and agreed to a pre-trial diversion program. The charges were dismissed in 2003.
The undercover investigation that led to the charges was detailed in other DEA proceedings for Iyer:
The DEA and the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office decided to launch the criminal investigation of Iyer after authorities received "numerous complaints" about Iyer and reviewed a "voluminous" printout of Iyer's controlled substance prescriptions, the DEA alleged.
From March to June of 1999, three undercover operatives visited Iyer's medical office. Iyer prescribed various drugs, including painkillers, even though the men said they weren't in pain and were seeking the drugs to abuse them, the DEA contended.
In June 2000, a federal grand jury indicted Iyer on five counts of illegally dispensing and distributing controlled substances. Another count alleged she conspired to illegally distribute and dispense controlled substances.
Iyer agreed to the pretrial diversion program, which included supervision by another physician tasked with reviewing a portion of her patient records and all records involving prescriptions of controlled substances.
The charges were dismissed after Iyer completed the diversion program.
During and after the criminal case, the DEA sought to revoke Iyer's registration to prescribe controlled substances. Such a license is required for all doctors who prescribe such medications.
In 2006, the DEA deputy administrator ordered the revocation of Iyer's registration, citing details of the undercover operation. Iyer appealed. And the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit set aside the order to revoke her license. It returned the case to the DEA for reconsideration, asking the DEA to consider Iyer's entire record.
In December 2008, the DEA suspended Iyer's registration retroactively from Oct. 2, 2006, to Oct. 2, 2007, about the period that her license was initially revoked. The DEA granted the renewal of her registration under the condition that she file monthly reports for a year with the DEA that detail prescriptions and dosages of controlled substances, records show.
The DEA deputy administrator noted that Iyer had taken steps to reform her practice and that she now acknowledged that her prescribing to the undercover operatives was improper.
The DEA can't comment on the status of Iyer's case or her compliance with the order, said DEA spokesman David Melenkevitz. It's being treated as an ongoing investigation, he said.
More than two years ago, Theresa Kincaid's husband, Vincent, as executor of her estate, filed the malpractice suit against Iyer and another doctor, William L. Cua, a Hudson psychiatrist.
The case is slowly winding its way through the judicial system.
At the time of her death, Kincaid weighed about 200 pounds, the autopsy report said. Her husband, Vincent, told a forensic investigator that she had lost about 130 pounds from gastric bypass surgery.
The case alleges that, for years before Kincaid's death, the doctors prescribed various controlled substances and then continued to prescribe the same dosages, or at times, higher dosages, even though Theresa Kincaid had "significant weight loss" from the surgery.
The case also alleged that Iyer "knew or should have known that progressively increasing the pain medications" to those levels "was likely to cause addiction and unsafe behavior" and the combination of drugs "was likely to create a serious risk" to her patient.
Vincent Kincaid, who now lives in Spring Hill, is seeking various damages, including loss of support, loss of companionship and mental pain and suffering in his suit.
He didn't want to talk about the suit. He's trying to move on, he said.
"What's done is done," he said.
Lorri Helfand can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4155.