United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma
JANELL AND T.J. JOHNSON, as co-special Administrators of the estate of C.J., deceased, Plaintiffs,
THE UNITED STATES, ex rel. THE CHICKASAW NATION MEDICAL CENTER, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
H. Payne United States District Judge
Johnson (C.J.) was the son of Plaintiffs Janell and T.J.
Johnson. On May 26, 2015, C.J. ingested some of his
grandmother's extended release morphine tablets. He was
taken to the emergency department at the Chickasaw Nation
Medical Center in Ada, Oklahoma. He was observed in the
emergency department for approximately 4 hours for signs of
morphine ingestion. After this observation period, the
decision was made to release C.J. C.J. returned to his
grandparents' home with his mother. In the morning hours
of May 27, 2015, C.J. died from acute morphine toxicity.
January 5, 2016, Janell and T.J. Johnson, as the
administrators of the estate of C.J, filed a Federal Tort
Claims Act (FTCA) suit against the Defendant. The lawsuit
alleges negligent medical care of their son, C.J., by the
staff at Chickasaw Nation Medical Center. Specifically,
Plaintiffs allege the doctor who provided care to C.J. failed
to consider the symptomatology of extended release morphine
toxicity in children under the age of three, which is
significantly different from adults, and requires an extended
period of observation of more than 4 hours. They allege this
failure proximately caused the death of C.J. Defendant claims
the care and treatment C.J. received was appropriate in all
matter came on for non-jury trial November 1, 2016 through
November 4, 2016.
OF FACTS 
Johnson was the natural child of Janell and T.J. Johnson.
(Trial Transcript Vol. I page, 9 lines 20-25 and Trial
Transcript Vol. III page 481, lines 20-24). Sharon and Kelton
Welch are C.J.'s grandparents. (Trial Transcript Vol. III
page 492, lines 12-22).
the evening of May 26, 2015, C.J. was at his
grandparents' house for dinner. Sharon Welch, C.J.'s
grandmother, left her weekly pill dispenser on a night stand.
The medication dispenser held multiple medications including
morphine. Sharon noticed pills missing from the dispenser.
The family looked for the missing pills. (Trial Transcript
Vol. I page 13, lines 8-11, page 20, lines 16-25, page 21,
lines 1-3 and Trial Transcript Vol. III page 537, lines 1-11,
page 540, lines 18-21, page 543, lines 5-9).
was suspected of ingesting the medication, including two 30
mg extended release morphine tablets. The family believed
C.J. ingested the pills between 6:30p.m.-7:30p.m. (Trial
Transcript Volume I page 15, lines 15-17, page 77, lines 1-8
and Pill Bottles Plaintiff's Trial Exh. 10).
Around 8:09 p.m., T.J. called the Poison Control Center and
informed them it was suspected their two year old son had
ingested his grandmother's medications including two 30
mg tablets of morphine. The Poison Control Center instructed
T.J. to take his son to an emergency department for
observation. (Defendant's Trial Exh. 6-Oklahoma Poison
Control Center Records).
Poison Control Center called The Chickasaw Nation Medical
Center to alert them to C.J.'s arrival. Poison Control
informed Nurse Christy Elliot that C.J. was suspected of
ingesting morphine tablets. (Defendant's Trial Exh.
6-Oklahoma Poison Control Center Records).
Janell and her father Kelton Welch drove C.J. to Chickasaw
Nation Medical Center in Ada, Oklahoma. C.J. arrived at the
emergency department at 8:55 p.m. (Trial Transcript Vol. I,
pages 22, lines 10-22 and Defendant's Trial Exh.
1-Medical Records from Chickasaw Nation Medical Center).
arrival at the emergency department, C.J. was immediately
triaged and put into a room. (Trial Transcript Vol. I, pages
27, lines 8-12 and Defendant's Trial Exh. 1-Medical
Records from Chickasaw Nation Medical Center).
Justin Roulston and Nurse Christy Elliot were charged with
C.J.'s care while he was in the emergency department.
(Trial Transcript Vol. I, pages 27, lines 13-25).
Dr. Roulston entered the room, Janell handed him the
prescription bottles of the pills C.J. was suspected of
taking. Morphine was the only medicine with which Dr.
Roulston was concerned. (Trial Transcript Vol. I, pages 27,
lines 24-25 and page 28, lines 1-5 and Trial Transcript Vol.
II, page 168, lines 14-25 and page 169, lines 1-9).
mgs of extended release morphine is a fatal dosage in a two
year old if not treated. (Trial Transcript Vol. II, page 170,
C.J. was placed on monitors. Dr. Roulston told Janell he
would run a blood and urine test. (Trial ...