Slipknot Bassist's Wrongful Death Suit Will Be Considered by Iowa Supreme Court

By Paul Gaita 02/17/16

Paul Gray, bassist for the heavy metal band Slipknot, succumbed to a prescription medication overdose in May 2010. 

Iowa Supreme Court Will Hear Wrongful Death Suit Case Against MD Who Prescribed Meds to Slipknot Bassist
Photo via Shutterstock

A civil lawsuit filed against an Iowa doctor in regard to the fatal overdose of Slipknot bassist Paul Gray was heard on Tuesday in the Iowa Supreme Court. The court will review arguments from attorneys representing Gray’s widow, Brenna, who filed a 2014 lawsuit seeking damages against Dr. Daniel Baldi, who was accused of prescribing high doses of the anxiety drug Xanax to Gray, who suffered from addiction issues, against her wishes. When Gray succumbed to an overdose in 2010, Brenna Gray joined the families of several other former patients in filing charges of involuntary manslaughter involving prescription medication against Baldi in 2012.

Two years later, a jury cleared him of all charges, which prompted the second lawsuit from Gray’s widow. The case is being carefully watched by both the medical and legal profession for its possible impact on the future of wrongful death rulings.

Attorney Bruce Stoltze filed the second lawsuit in February 2014—nearly four years after Gray’s death—that sought damages against Baldi on behalf of Brenna Gray and the couple’s daughter, October, who was born after her father’s death. But District Judge Dennis Stovall dismissed the case, citing a 1990 Iowa Supreme Court decision that stated wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within two years of the person’s death.

Stolze argued that the court should implement a “discovery rule” that would allow family members or survivors two years to file a suit from the time they discover evidence that could lead to the claim. Iowa courts currently recognize a similar discovery rule in regard to rare instances involving injury cases, and Stoltze argued that there was no “rational reason” to differentiate between suits filed in regard to death or injury. A second issue in the case involves whether the lawsuit can be brought on behalf of October Gray, with Baldi’s defense arguing that since the child was born after her father’s death, she should not receive damages for the loss of a parental relationship that did not exist.

Should the Iowa justices reverse their previous ruling and allow Gray’s estate to move forward with its suit against Baldi, the impact on future suits of the same nature would be significant for both plaintiffs and the medical profession. “You’re going to be opening unfortunate medical complications up for review long after the treatment,” said Des Moines attorney David Brown, who handles professional malpractice cases. 


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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.