Verdict may not mean money for pharmacist's victims

Friday, October 18, 2002

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- In the quest for Robert R. Courtney's millions, even his father's house isn't safe.

Federal prosecutors have moved to seize the house, owned by Courtney and valued at $285,000. Private attorneys are after some of the $71 million in insurance that Courtney and his pharmacy carried during the 1990s.

Both are part of the hodgepodge of insurance, drug company money, and Courtney's own assets that could compensate people who got his watered-down chemotherapy drugs. But that money will be divided among as many as 4,200 potential victims.

"I don't think there will be a whole lot," said Donna Bair of Warsaw, Mo., whose husband of 43 years, Robert, died of lung cancer in 1999 after getting chemotherapy drugs from Courtney's pharmacy.

"I think a lot of it will go for the federal fines and things like that. Hopefully there will be a little something for the victims and their families."

Bair said she thinks most of her fellow plaintiffs sued Courtney to punish him, "more than the monetary value of it."

She and several other plaintiffs said they have not been told how much they will get from last week's settlement with drug makers Eli Lilly & Co. and Bristol-Myers Squibb over allegations they should have done more to stop Courtney.

Cancer patient Georgia Hayes won a $2.25 billion jury verdict against Courtney last week. She has said she will share whatever money she gets with other victims. But her lawyers have acknowledged that whatever money Hayes and other plaintiffs get from Courtney will likely come from his insurance company, which is fighting the claims.

Courtney's insurance could pay as much as $71 million if plaintiffs max out each of his policies from the 1990s.

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