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As published in Associated Press, National Law Journal and BNA Bloomberg Medical Research Law & Policy Report, attorney Daniel M. Hodes, with medical malpractice and personal injury firm Hodes Milman Liebeck, LLP , is representing the husband of Phyllis Harvey, a woman who died while under the care of Dr. Alexander Bystritsky, a psychiatrist practicing within the UCLA medical community. Dr. Bystritsky not only prescribed Mrs. Harvey a dangerous “cocktail” of medications leading to her death, but capitalizing on her prescription drug-induced intoxication, improperly solicited financial donations from her. The lawsuit seeks damages from both Dr. Bystritsky and the Regents of University of California for violations including: wrongful death due to medical negligence; fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress; and several civil, health and safety, business and professional code infringements. Mr. Hodes is demanding a jury trial and is seeking punitive damages on behalf of his client.

“Dr. Bystritsky displayed a seemingly conscious disregard for the health of Mrs. Harvey even after multiple protests from other physicians,” says Mr. Hodes. “Coupled with the gross mismanagement of her medical regimen, Dr. Bystritsky took advantage of her intoxication by soliciting and obtaining multiple donations from the Harvey family for his research at UCLA. The California Medical Board is actively investigating the matter.”

Medical History

Dr. Bystritsky treated Mrs. Harvey, a well-known philanthropist, for mental health issues beginning in 2004. As part of her treatment regimen, Mrs. Harvey was prescribed a “cocktail” of medications, including Seroquel, a substance that is known to dangerously alter the QT waveform of the heartbeat. Despite several hospitalizations and repeated protests from other physicians who asserted that these medications could prove to be life threatening, Dr. Bystritsky failed to discontinue this course of treatment.

Financial Donations

In addition to this negligent overmedication, Dr. Bystritsky also improperly solicited financial donations from the Harvey family and their foundation, the Brian and Phyllis Harvey Foundation, by capitalizing on her prescription drug-induced intoxication. Knowing that she was unwell and heavily medicated, Dr. Bystritsky made repeated house visits to Mrs. Harvey requesting donations for his “research” at UCLA, obtaining $490,000 from Mr. and Mrs. Harvey. The Regents of the University of California knew or should have known of this behavior and continued to accept the donations, making the institution complicit in his scheme. This repeated and insistent manipulation, coupled with the gross mismanagement of her medical regimen, culminated in Phyllis Harvey’s death in April 2011.