Keir’s latest post summarised the well known legal cases brought against Dr Burzynski and his companies over the years. It included details on cases filed by the US Government, the FDA and the Texas Medical Board. It also discussed Burzynski’s 1994 insurance fraud and the case brought against him in 2012 by a former patient, Lola Quinlan, who accused Burzynski, the Burzynski Research Institute and Southern Family Pharmacy of negligence, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, deceptive trade and conspiracy.
But those are just the best known cases.
There are several further examples of patients or their families suing Burzynski, some of which have been mentioned in local news articles in the past. There is also an astounding number of cases from the mid 1980s relating to unpaid bills, another case pointing to possible tax evasion, another one relating to air pollution, and one accusing Burzynski of “ravaging” a building, leaving it stinking of urine and then refusing to pay for repairs.
Documents relating to these are available from the Harris County District Clerk site should you wish to view them in full but be warned – wading through these is time consuming and confusing. I have done my best to report as accurately as I can but please note that I am not a lawyer, I’m unfamiliar with Texan law and it wasn’t always possible to get to the bottom of what had happened or how the cases were resolved.
I will list them in chronological order.
- In 1983, Stanley and Bernice Zabodyn filed a suit against Stanislaw Burzynski. They believed that their daughter, Kay Wimberley’s treatment at the Burzynski Clinic increased her pain and hastened her death. The case was settled in 1986 with a payment of $300,000 to the Zabodyns.
- In August 1984, the Burzynski Research Institute dba Burzynski Research Laboratories were ordered to pay Norwood Chemical Company $89059.84. This consisted of $66059.94 in unpaid balance, plus attorneys’ fees and interest.
- In October 1984, S R Burzynski was ordered to pay $11472.09 plus interest to National Health Labs as well as $3618.02 in attorneys’ fees following another case involving unpaid invoices.
- In November 1984, Dr Burzynski and the Burzynski Research Institute were ordered to pay the Hach company $4926.88 plus interest, court costs and attorneys fees after they had filed a suit related to unpaid invoices.
- The same month, Burzynski and the BRI were also ordered to pay $28,715.99 (plus interest, plus attorneys’ fees) to a company called Calvin, Dylewski, Gibbs, Maddox, Russell and Shanks, who had filed a similar suit.
- In 1984, the Xerox Company filed a suit against Burzynski.
- In 1984, Camacho Constructors filed a suit against Burzynski.
- In January 1985, S R Burzynski was ordered to pay $8396.62, plus interest, court costs and attorney’s fees to Chamberlain Waterproofing, making a total of $11400.42. Again, this related to unpaid bills.
- In 1985 General Laboratory Supply of Houston brought a case against Burzynski Research Labs. The defendants were ordered to pay the $8558.48 owed in unpaid bills, plus attorneys’ fees.
- In 1985, the Texas Air Control Board (through the State of Texas) brought a case against the Burzynski Cancer Research Institute, alleging violation of the Clean Air Act and seeking an injunction to safeguard the environment and the people of Houston and Stafford against further violations.
- In 1985, Fisher Scientific Company filed a suit against the Burzynski Research Institute.
- In 1986, Carl Bayer filed a suit against Stanislaw Burzynski.
- In 1989 Anthony Bilotta, an accountant, filed a petition against the Burzynski Research Institute. His work for Burzynski ended up being more difficult and detailed than had been originally envisaged. He noted that complete financial and medical records of some patients were missing. Bilotta claimed there was a substantial unpaid balance that the defendant had refused to pay. A mediator was appointed in 1991.
- In 1992, the Enterprise company brought a case against Stanislaw Burzynski for leasing a warehouse from them and returning it in “a literally ravaged condition, with a strong urine smell permeating the entire property” and refusing to make necessary repairs to bring it back to its original condition. Following arbitration, Burzynski was ordered to pay $8616.72 to Enterprise.
- In 1998, Mark and Susan Bedient filed a suit against Stanislaw Burzynski, seeking damages for the death of their daughter Christina. They claimed that the the doctors made misrepresentations to them about the efficacy of antineoplastons, the effect that the treatment was having on Christina’s tumour, and about her prognosis. They said they had believed the alleged misrepresentations. They also claimed that Burzynski and his clinic were negligent and treated their daughter in a manner that violated the standards of acceptable medical practice. This case was mentioned in the 1998 US News article Trials of a Cancer Doc, which also discusses other examples where patients or their families had made similar complaints. It was settled in 2000 by “return of a small amount of the patient’s treatment expenses”.
- Also in 2000, Russell Middleton, individually and as representative of the estate of a former patient, Gail Middleton, filed a suit accusing Burzynski of fraud, constructive fraud, negligent misrepresentation and breach of contract. Middleton’s petition alleged that Burzynski had knowingly and/or recklessly made false misrepresentations as to the amount of fees to be charged, failed to provide detailed and itemised billing, and made false representations regarding FDA approval and sponsorship. This meant that the Middletons’ insurer refused to reimburse them for costs incurred during the clinical trial. Burzynski denied the charges. In 2001, the case was dismissed for want of prosecution. In 2002, Middleton’s attorneys filed a Rule 11 agreement, asking that Burzynski’s lawyer, Richard Jaffe, make a settlement of $10000, reflecting Russell Middleton’s portion of the funds held in escrow since the party’s Rule 11 Conditional Settlement Agreement in May 2000.
- In 2003, Jim Robinson, Chief Appraiser of Harris County Appraisal District filed a petition for Injunctive Relief and Declaratory Judgment. He believed Burzynski owned, managed and controlled personal property for the production of income within Harris County, but continued to wrongfully and wilfully not render such property as required by the Property Tax Code. This was later moved to a non-suit.
- In 2011, Hermelinda Guardado filed a petition against the Burzynski Clinic and Burzynski Research Institute, alleging discrimination. She believed she had been unfairly dismissed after making complaints to Human Resources that a colleague had been sexually harrassing her. Guardado lost the case.
- In February 2012, Kenneth Adams, individually and on behalf of his deceased wife Lilly Louise Adams, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Burzynski. He said that in November 1998, his wife sustained injuries that eventually led to her death while seeking cancer treatment at The Burzynski Clinic. This was covered on a local news site here. In April 2012, the plaintiff filed to set aside and enter non-suit.
- UPDATE (09/05/13) In April 2013, Vern Richert, individually and as representative of the Estate of his wife Meridee Richert, filed a petition against Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (BCBSM), a health insurance company, and Dr Burzynski (dba Burzynski Clinic).
This is a far cry from the Burzynski PR machine’s brave maverick doctor battling against corrupt authorities. There are no grand victories here but rather a litany of settlements and damages to patients, employees and suppliers.
But it doesn’t matter on what scale or from what point of view you look at it, Burzynski’s legal history suggests that he simply can’t be trusted.