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Lake County Coroner Named in Wrongful Death Suit

March 12, 2011

Lake County Coroner Richard Keller has been named in a wrongful death civil lawsuit that has been filed by a Lindenhurst woman whose son died of a drug overdose. Keller had previously worked as the director of a methadone clinic and he had treated the now deceased man for addiction.

Keller is accused of improperly prescribing the drug methadone to Steve Vaughn who died in late 2008. A Chicago medical malpractice lawyer is representing the mother of Vaughn in this wrongful-death civil lawsuit which has been filed against both Keller and the now-defunct Green Dragonfly clinic. The family of the dead man is seeking an unnamed amount of damages for alleged negligence.

The woman' son died several hours after he was prescribed methadone during his second day of treatment at the clinic. According to state records, the clinic was closed in August 2009 after both state and federal inspections revealed a number of violations.

Keller is a licensed physician and he is accused of improperly prescribing methadone to Vaughn. The lawsuit alleges that Keller failed to order proper laboratory tests and that he failed to properly evaluate Vaughn and to record his medical history. According to Vaughn' mother, "I think the way they handled everything was irresponsible. I think they need to be held accountable for it."

The Lake County state's attorney has also launched a criminal investigation into Vaughn's death, but no charges have been filed as of yet. Keller, who also works as the county' coroner was also responsible for investigating the death of the man which further complicates the lawsuit. Keller concluded that the man died from mixing Xanax along with the methadone.

According to the lawsuit, Vaughn' mother contests that her son lied to Keller so that he could receive the methadone treatments after being turned down by other clinics. The mother believes that her son was using someone else' prescription for Xanax and that the clinic failed to warn him of the dangers of mixing Xanax and methadone.

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