Doctor acquitted of 14 patient deaths and suing healthcare system

DETROIT (AP) — An Ohio doctor who was acquitted of the deaths of 14 patients who died after being administered painkillers has filed a lawsuit against a national Catholic health system that operates the hospital where he worked in the intensive care unit.

William Husel alleges malicious prosecution and calls Trinity Health Corp. in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Detroit on Wednesday. He is demanding a jury trial and at least $20 million in damages.

Husel was accused of ordering pain medication for patients at Mount Carmel Health System in the Columbus area. He was charged in cases involving ingestion of at least 500 micrograms of the powerful painkiller fentanyl.

Prosecutors in that case had said that ordering such dosages for a non-surgical situation indicated an intention to end lives. Husel’s attorneys argued that he was comforting dying patients, not trying to kill them.

A jury found Husel not guilty of 14 counts of murder in April 2022.

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Husel was discharged from Mount Carmel West Hospital, a member of Trinity Health, in late 2018. He was later charged with 25 counts of murder. Eleven of those charges were dismissed by the county attorney’s office in January 2022.

According to the federal lawsuit, Husel “voluntarily gave up his license to practice medicine”.

“DR. Husel understood that despite the acquittal, the damage to his reputation would prevent him from ever practicing medicine,” the complaint reads.

According to Husel’s attorney Robert Landy of the New York law firm Ford O’Brien Landy, a separate libel lawsuit against Trinity awaits trial in Franklin County, Ohio.

This lawsuit was filed while Husel was indicted. The damages Husel is seeking in the malicious prosecution lawsuit are if he does not recover the amount in the defamation case, Landy said.

“A malicious law enforcement case is when a person complains to authorities to have you arrested and charged, as opposed to believing that you have done something wrong in good faith,” Landy said. “That only works if the accused is acquitted.”

Trinity Health said through a spokeswoman Thursday that the allegations in the lawsuit were “baseless.”

“We will address the matter as part of the court process, if appropriate,” Trinity Health said in an email. “As this is an active lawsuit, we have no further comment.”

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