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Doctor Probed in Death of Producer Sued by Patient

Court: Woman alleges that Don Simpson's psychiatrist and others administered electroshock against her will.

October 09, 1996|CHUCK PHILIPS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Los Angeles psychiatrist under investigation for allegedly overprescribing drugs to the late filmmaker Don Simpson was sued Tuesday by a former patient who contends that she was subjected to electroshock therapy against her will.

The medical malpractice and battery lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by onetime Playboy centerfold Melissa Holliday, alleges that Dr. Nomi J. Fredrick overmedicated her and forced her to undergo a series of shock treatments last year, causing brain damage.

The civil lawsuit names five defendants, including St. Johns Hospital and Health Center in Santa Monica, electroshock specialist Dr. Timothy Hayes, gynecologist Dr. Rodney Francis and psychiatrist Dr. Fred Silvers.

Representatives for Fredrick and St. Johns said they had not been served with the lawsuit and declined to comment. Hayes, Silver and Francis did not return calls seeking comment.

Holliday's suit contends that the conduct of Fredrick, the other doctors and St. Johns was "outrageous" and riddled with potential conflicts of interest.

"Nomi Fredrick doped me up and assaulted me--not with a bat, but with a medical device," the 26-year-old Holliday said in an interview. "I believe that this doctor didn't care about my health or safety."

This is the second malpractice claim filed in recent months against Fredrick, who remains on staff at St. Johns and continues to operate her West Los Angeles practice with her partner, Dr. Robert H. Gerner, who also is under investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on suspicion of overprescribing drugs.

In August, police raided the offices of Gerner and Fredrick as part of that federal investigation.

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Fredrick was sued seven weeks ago by the family of a doctor who died of a drug overdose on Simpson's property in August 1995--five months before the film producer overdosed on drugs. The plaintiffs in both suits are represented by Alexander R. Lampone, a physician and attorney who served as medical director of the emergency room department at St. Johns until 1994, when his contract was terminated after St. Johns closed its emergency room following the Northridge earthquake. He sued St. Johns for wrongful termination and the litigation is pending.

Last month, Holliday filed a criminal complaint against Fredrick with the district attorney's office, but police have taken no action on the complaint. She also was interviewed by the LAPD, the DEA and Assistant U.S. Atty. Mark Hardiman, who is heading the prescription drug investigation triggered by Simpson's death.

Before the electroshock incident, Holliday earned her living as a model and actress, appearing in Playboy magazine--she was the centerfold in January 1995--and on the "Baywatch" TV show. Holliday now suffers from mental anguish and memory loss, the suit says, and is on disability.

The lawsuit says Holliday had a history of depression and abdominal pain stemming from long-standing endometriosis.

The suit says she consulted Francis, a Santa Monica gynecologist, who did not perform standard tests that would have shown that she was suffering from endometriosis, the abnormal growth of tissues in the pelvic area.

In May 1995, she consulted Fredrick, who prescribed a potent combination of pyschoactive drugs for Holliday to treat her depression and in June recommended that she be admitted to St. Johns, the suit says. After three weeks of drug treatment, the suit contends, Fredrick coerced Holliday to sign a shock treatment consent form by threatening to lock her up involuntarily in the psychiatric ward.

The first shock treatment was given on June 26, 1995. The suit contends that Fredrick and the other doctors later ignored Holliday's revocation of consent and forced her to undergo seven more shock treatments.

Holliday, whose insurance company was charged more than $45,000 during her 6-week stay, was released from St. Johns on July 13, 1995. One month later, Francis performed a laparoscopy and discovered endometriosis, the suit says.

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