America’s Frontline Doctors (AFLD) is a right-wing anti-vaccine group that over the course of the pandemic has peddled disinformation and COVID “treatments” that are anything but—ivermectin, for instance, and hydroxychloroquine. Vera Bergengruen of Time has reported extensively on AFLD since 2021. Now some of the loved ones of people who sought medical advice from the group and others like it want accountability:
Jeremy had started following AFLD online after listening to podcasts that promoted conspiracies about COVID-19. At the time, the group was producing slick videos on social media, falsely claiming that U.S. health agencies were withholding life-saving treatments, and that doctors refusing to prescribe them were like “good Germans who allow the Nazis to kill the Jews.” Jeremy, who worked as an industrial sandblaster, became convinced that hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin were the only effective treatments for the virus.
On Aug. 26, 2021, Jeremy paid $90 for a consultation through AFLD’s online telemedicine portal. He was connected to a doctor named Medina Culver, 33, an osteopathic physician and Instagram influencer based in Henderson, Nev. Culver did not see or examine Jeremy. Over the phone, she prescribed him hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 treatment or prevention, according to a receipt reviewed by TIME. Soon after, Jeremy received a prescription for 200mg of hydroxychloroquine in the mail from Ravkoo, a Florida-based pharmacy chain partnered with AFLD. According to his widow’s lawsuit, he took those hydroxychloroquine pills the night he died.
Jeremy’s family is suing both AFLD and Culver in Nevada district court for in excess of $30,000 in damages. The lawsuit, which was filed in February on behalf of his estate and cites TIME’s 2021 investigation, alleges that his death was linked to the falsehoods spread by AFLD as well as the doctor who prescribed it. “They didn’t even examine him. They gave him something that he used as they prescribed, and it killed him,” Jelena Parker-Hatfield says. “How can they not be held accountable for something? How in America can this be a system that works, that everybody is okay with?”