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Judge Rejects Doctor's License Revocation

The jurist reverses a state board on the late movie producer Don Simpson's psychiatrist, paving the way for her to practice medicine again.

November 07, 2003|Chuck Philips | Times Staff Writer

A judge has reversed a state medical board ruling that revoked the license of a Westside psychiatrist for overprescribing addictive drugs to Hollywood producer Don Simpson, who died nearly eight years ago of an overdose.

In a 42-page decision made public Thursday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lloyd G. Connelly rejected the board's grounds for disciplining Dr. Nomi J. Fredrick -- and paved the way for the psychiatrist to practice medicine again.

Fredrick lost her license Oct. 22, 2000, after the Medical Board of California found her to have been dishonest, incompetent and grossly negligent in her treatment of Simpson, a known drug abuser, and other patients.

According to the board, Fredrick also falsified patients' records and lied under oath during administrative hearings on her treatment of Simpson and others.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday November 11, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 72 words Type of Material: Correction
Treatment -- An article in Friday's California section incorrectly stated that Dr. Nomi J. Fredrick stopped treating Hollywood producer Don Simpson several months before another physician, Dr. Stephen Ammerman, died of a drug overdose at Simpson's estate on Aug. 15, 1995. In fact, Simpson was under Fredrick's care when Ammerman died, and she continued to treat him until shortly before the producer's own death of a drug overdose on Jan. 19, 1996.

Connelly's ruling, signed Sept. 29, challenges virtually every one of the board's findings against Fredrick.

The judge said the evidence presented in administrative hearings did not support prosecutors' claims. Basing his opinion on a review of court transcripts, Connelly questioned the credibility of witnesses, attacked the testimony of experts and challenged most of the conclusions drawn by the board.

Fredrick could not be reached for comment Thursday, and her attorney, Gretchen M. Nelson, did not return phone calls. The medical board also declined to comment, although sources said the agency was likely to appeal the decision.

Simpson -- whose partnership with producer Jerry Bruckheimer yielded such blockbusters as "Beverly Hills Cop" -- died of an overdose Jan. 19, 1996. Traces of 21 drugs were found in his blood.

Many of the pills and capsules that authorities found at Simpson's Bel-Air estate after his death had been prescribed during the summer of 1995, when the producer hired Fredrick to treat him and Dr. Stephen Ammerman -- to administer a chemical detoxification program at the producer's home to help him kick a drug habit.

That program came to a halt Aug. 15, 1995, when Ammerman, a former patient of Fredrick's, was found dead of a drug overdose on Simpson's estate a few months after Fredrick stopped treating Simpson.

The medical board launched an investigation of Fredrick and ultimately revoked her license. The board did not blame her for the deaths of Simpson and Ammerman, but raised numerous questions about her treatment of the two patients, her prescribing practices and the circumstances surrounding their demise.

Fredrick appealed the decision in Superior Court, which led to Connelly's ruling.

The judge found there was no evidence that Fredrick had attempted to provide a detoxification program for Simpson at his home or that she had been negligent in prescribing morphine and other medications for him.

Connelly also ruled that there was no evidence to support the board's finding that Fredrick had been aware of Simpson's drug abuse while she treated him with addictive medications.

And the judge disputed the board's contention that Fredrick had falsified medical records to portray her treatment of Simpson in a more favorable light.

In addition, Connelly rejected the board's finding that Fredrick had charged Simpson excessive fees, including $23,500 for jewelry and $1,000 for clothing.

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