North Alabama oncologist being sued for wrongful death over woman’s fatal opioid overdose

Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 6:26 AM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - An Alabama doctor is now being sued for wrongful death of a 21-year-old woman from Pelham.

Sammy Becdach, a former oncologist in North Alabama, had his medical license permanently revoked last year, after a woman he was sleeping with died from an opioid overdose.

Katelyn Whitworth’s family said she became addicted to opioids after meeting Oncologist Sammy Becdach when she was 18, but Whitworth didn’t have cancer, so she didn’t need any of his prescriptions. She overdosed in 2020 and her family is now suing for wrongful death.

“He was able to use his position as a cancer doctor, as a physician, to sort of lure and bait her into continuing a sexual relationship,” Legal Counsel, Nate Vanderveer said. “He would withhold drugs from her to essentially put her into withdrawal, to get her back to see him again. This went on for several years before she was able to break it off for nine or ten months.”

The lawsuit claims that Becdach gave her cash, a credit card, an apartment and other gifts “in exchange for sex.” It also claims he forced her to take controlled substances like opioids, fentanyl, and oxycontin. Her family’s legal counsel on the case, Nate Vanderveer, said that the doctor was illegally writing fake prescriptions and even snuck Whitworth into his oncology office to forge a fake doctor patient relationship.

Vanderveer, with Bodewell Law, said she died of an accidental overdose to fentanyl and morphine, and she allegedly saw Dr. Becdach just a few days before her death.

“He had and carried with him a suitcase that had liquid oxycontin in it, fentanyl , fentanyl patches, allowing her to tear off pieces of fentanyl and chewing on a patch and telling her that is how you use these things,” Vanderveer said. “She had no business using any sort of opioid medication. There was absolutely no medical basis for her to be getting oxycontin and fentanyl, not only providing her out of a briefcase, but also illegally writing her a prescription for.”

Vanderveer said after the former doctor was served with this lawsuit, he went to Ecuador, where he still is. They are waiting on a response to the suit and hope that the state of Alabama will also press criminal charges and get him extradited back.

The family is also suing Walgreens, saying the corporation filled fraudulent prescriptions and failed to recognize the red flags of drug abuse.

WBRC reached out to Walgreens for comment, but a Walgreens spokesperson said “we don’t comment on pending litigation.”

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