Suit Settled in the Case of a Former Mr. America's Death

Categories: News
A former Mr. America, Dallas' Mike Scarcella died of GHB addiction four years ago this month.

Mike Scarcella was a local bodybuilder who earned the titles of Mr. America and Mr. USA. He died on August 25, 2003, during gamma hydroxybutyrate (or GHB) withdrawal -- while he was hospitalized for a savage beating he received outside a Carrollton bar. (Among his many injuries: His jaw was broken, left hanging sideways off his face.) If you're so interested, Mark Donald told Scarcella's story in the paper version of Unfair Park three years back, but today there is breaking news: Scarcella's has settled a lawsuit against Presbyterian Hospital of Plano Inc. Terms of the settlement are confidential.

The suit stemmed from Scarcella's family's allegations that although hospital doctors diagnosed the bodybuilder with a blood infection and pneumonia, "he was transferred by police car rather than an ambulance to the psychiatric unit at North Central Medical Center in McKinney where he died only hours after being admitted." The full media release concerning the settlement is after the jump. --Robert Wilonsky

Settlement Reached in Mr. America Death

Michael Scarcella died after transfer from Presbyterian Hospital in Plano

DALLAS -- The family of former Mr. America Michael Scarcella has settled a lawsuit against Presbyterian Hospital of Plano Inc., following Mr. Scarcella’s death in 2003 after he was transferred from the hospital.

Terms of the settlement are confidential.

“It’s a small measure of consolation for Michael’s nine-year-old son, who will have to grow up without his dad,” says Jim Girards of The Girards Law Firm in Dallas, who represents the late Mr. Scarcella’s son, Brock, and the child’s mother, Crystal Gleisner. “Michael was bigger than life to his son, who called him ‘Superman.’ The manner in which Michael was treated by these hospitals was tragic and completely unnecessary.”

Mr. Scarcella was a competitive bodybuilder and personal trainer who held the titles of Mr. America, Mr. USA and Mr. Lone Star Texas prior to his death at age 39.

Like many bodybuilders, he used gamma hydroxybutyrate, or GHB, when the product was legal and available in health food stores and other retail outlets. Since then, the government outlawed GHB, also known as “the date-rape drug,” due to its highly-addictive nature and its dangerous, often lethal side effects.

In August 2003, Mr. Scarcella was taken to the emergency room at Presbyterian Hospital of Plano with a broken jaw. Mr. Scarcella, who had no health insurance, told the staff he was addicted to GHB before he began experiencing withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, confusion and hallucinations.

Although hospital doctors diagnosed Mr. Scarcella with a blood infection and pneumonia, he was transferred by police car rather than an ambulance to the psychiatric unit at North Central Medical Center in McKinney where he died only hours after being admitted.

“This was patient dumping, pure and simple,” Mr. Girards says. “If the hospital had been more concerned about Michael’s safety and less concerned about payments and billing, Michael still would be alive.”


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