Convicted killer David Ragsdale's family appeals ruling

Published: Sunday, July 10 2011 6:23 p.m. MDT

PROVO — The family of a man who fatally shot his wife in a church parking lot in January 2008 is appealing a judge's decision to dismiss a lawsuit against the health care providers who prescribed him mood-altering drugs.

The children of David Ragsdale are asking the Utah Supreme Court to overturn District Judge Denise Lindberg's December dismissal of the suit against nurse practitioner Trina West, Dr. Hugo Rodier and Pioneer Comprehensive Medical Clinic, the Daily Herald of Provo reported.

The family's lawyers have argued Ragsdale's murder of his wife, Kristy, was a "foreseeable" result of a mixture of psychotropic medications he had been prescribed, and the health care professionals didn't adequately monitor his dosage.

Ragsdale shot his wife 13 times as she headed to services at a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints chapel in Lehi with her children. He later pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.

Lindberg wrote that she dismissed the case because there was no relationship between the plaintiffs — Ragsdale's children — and the health care providers.

Lindberg also noted that Ragsdale was not one of the plaintiffs, and that his children could not step into his "shoes to pursue a malpractice lawsuit against the defendants."

But lawyer Tyler Young, who represents the children, maintained similar cases set a precedent for their complaint and case law supports their position.

"Utah has recognized cases where third parties can sue doctors," Young told the Daily Herald.

But West lawyer Stephen Owens said he believes Lindberg made the correct decision.

The Utah Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case, but it could take several months until a hearing is scheduled.

Ragsdale was diagnosed at the clinic with attention deficit disorder and was taking seven medications at the time of the shooting, according to the suit filed in 3rd District Court. The drugs included a psychostimulant, two steroids, two antidepressants, a tranquilizer and a hair-loss medication.

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