Doctor, Nurse Lose Appeal Alleging Oxycodone Conspiracy

A Fifth Circuit opinion was upheld on Tuesday in regards to a long-running drug distribution case against two Texas medical clinicians. Married plaintiffs Theodore “Tad” Taylor and Chia Jean Lee were convicted of conspiring to distribute controlled substances. They appealed the decision citing “premature jury deliberation, unreliable expert testimony, and a deliberate ignorance instruction,” but it was upheld by the appellate court.

Taylor, a doctor, and Lee, a nurse, were indicted in 2017 on allegations that they conspired between 2010 and 2012 to “illegally prescribe five controlled substances: oxycodone, amphetamine salts, hydrocodone, alprazolam, and promethazine with codeine.” They were convicted after a seven-day trial; Taylor received a sentence of 20 years, and Lee was sentenced to 15 years. The two clinicians appealed their sentences and claimed the trial was conducted at an inappropriate venue, in addition to the three judicial errors they also alleged.

The appellate court’s opinion describes Taylor and Lee’s operation as a “pill mill,” which is a “medical practice that serves as a front for dealing prescription drugs.” Although the medical practitioners claim that their clinic, Taylor Texas Medicine, was a “legitimate pain management operation,” the court believed it was run in bad faith. According to the filing, “Eventually 80% of the clinic’s patients were pain patients,” even though Taylor was not a pain management specialist. The clinicians were accused of shifting focus to pain medicine when they fell into financial difficulties.

As described by the court’s opinions, the prosecution of Taylor and Lee “offers a window into the prescription drug epidemic that is plaguing America.” Udashen Anton represents Taylor, and firm Miller, James, Miller & Hornsby represents Lee.