Wichita — A federal judge threw out on Thursday a civil lawsuit filed by a patient advocacy group over the prosecution of a Kansas doctor accused of running a "pill mill" linked to 56 deaths.
U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown granted a motion by the Pain Relief Network for voluntary dismissal without prejudice.
"We will be refiling - where, we don't know. This is certainly not the end, it is just the beginning," said Siobhan Reynolds, president of the Pain Relief Network.
Brown's written order was based on the group's lack of standing to sue. He also cited case precedent prohibiting federal courts from unduly interfering with ongoing state proceedings, such as those at the Kansas Board of Healing Arts.
"We will be filing it as a national class action, not necessarily in Wichita," Reynolds said. "When a judge says you don't have standing, what it means in regular language is he doesn't want to hear it."
The U.S. attorney's office declined to comment on the dismissal.
Brown denied a motion for dismissal filed by the state of Kansas and the KBHA, calling it moot since the plaintiffs withdrew their lawsuit.
"I am pleased that case is not pending - and hope we don't have any more like it," said Mark Stafford, attorney for KBHA.
The Pain Relief Network sued last month on behalf of unnamed patients of Dr. Stephen Schneider. The New Mexico-based advocacy group claimed 1,000 patients could not find adequate medical care after the Kansas Board of Healing Arts suspended Schneider's license in the wake of a federal indictment.
Stafford said he has no personal knowledge that all of Schneider's patients are systematically being denied medical care.
"I have heard rumors that people are being denied care, but I don't know if this is the care of choice or the physician of choice or some other factor that is involved here," Stafford said.
Brown's written order follows a court hearing last week in which he refused PRN's request for a temporary restraining order preventing the Justice Department from taking any action against Schneider's clinic. Brown also denied the network's request to order the KBHA to restore Schneider's medical license.
The group had also asked the federal court to declare that patients have a fundamental right to receive pain relief through pharmaceuticals approved by the Food and Drug Administration.