COVINGTON – The Northern Kentucky doctor who killed himself this week was fighting to get his medical license reinstated while facing a malpractice lawsuit accusing him of contributing to 11 deaths.
Dr. Gary Shearer was found dead at his son's home in Florence Wednesday, after testifying Monday and Tuesday at a state medical board hearing.
Shearer died of "suspected suicide," Boone County Coroner Doug Stith told WCPO on Thursday. "There was no evidence of foul play."
Attorney Bob Sanders said the board expert supported the doctor at the hearing.
"The expert for the board testified that nothing that Dr. Shearer did or failed to do caused any injury or harm to any patient," Sanders said.
Federal agents raided Shearer's Florence office in April 2012. That was followed by a finding that 15 of his patients died of pain prescription overdoses.
At one point Shearer was named as one of the top five prescribers of oxycodone in Kentucky.
The Kentucky State Board of Medical Licensure suspended Shearer's license in September 2012.
The board expert testified this week that Shearer did not run a pill mill, Sanders said.
"Dr. Shearer went to extraordinary lengths to care for his patients. Dr. Shearer should be commended for doing such a wonderful job," Sanders said.
Shearer was ahead of his time in dealing with what is now a heroin epidemic, Sanders said.
"It's unfortunate that a lot of people misunderstood and misinterpreted what Dr. Shearer was doing when he was dealing with heroin addicts and treating heroin addicts," Sanders said.
But attorney Chris Roach disputes that. Roach represents families of 11 patients who claim their deaths were tied to Shearer's overprescribing opiates.
Roach wouldn't comment on Shearer's death except to say:
"We are working with opposing counsel to hold the case in abeyance, which basically means put the case on pause until they're able to set up an estate so that the case can continue."
None of the people involved in the lawsuits would comment.