Massachusetts Man’s Pharmaceutical Malpractice Case Following Allergic Reaction to Prescription Drug Dismissed on Summary Judgment

Under Massachusetts law, a pharmacist or druggist who misfills a prescription can be held liable in a pharmaceutical negligence suit. In such cases, the plaintiff has the burden of proof, and several procedural requirements must be met in order for the plaintiff to prevail. If you or someone in your family has been hurt by the mistake of a drug store or pharmacy, you should talk to a lawyer to learn more about your legal rights. Waiting too long to get legal advice about your case can result in forfeiture of what might otherwise have been a valid and valuable claim for pharmaceutical malpractice.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case initially filed in Massachusetts state court but removed to the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, the plaintiff was a man who was prescribed the drug Levaquin for treatment of a head cold. Levaquin is a quinolone antibiotic also known as levofloxacin. When the plaintiff attempted to get his prescription filled at the defendant pharmacy, the pharmacist who was on duty received a “hard stop” warning on his computer indicating that the plaintiff was allergic to quinolones. The pharmacist looked into the matter further and saw that there was conflicting information that included a prior statement by the plaintiff to the effect that he “in fact had no quinolone allergy” and had been prescribed quinolones on multiple occasions in the past. As per the defendant’s policy in such situations, the pharmacist exercised his “individual judgment,” ultimately deciding to go ahead and dispense the Levaquin.

After suffering an allergic reaction to the medication, the plaintiff filed suit in state court, seeking $650,000 in compensation for his injuries. After the defendant removed the case to federal court, it moved for summary judgment. The district court found that the case had been properly removed to federal court based on diversity jurisdiction, despite the defendant’s meager settlement offer of $5,000. The court also agreed with the defendant that it was entitled to summary judgment on the plaintiff’s claims for negligence, breach of warranty, and unfair or deceptive practices in violation of Massachusetts General. The plaintiff sought appellate review.

The Court’s Opinion on Appeal

The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed. With regard to the plaintiff’s motion to remand the matter to state court, the federal appeals tribunal first noted that there was complete diversity of citizenship (the plaintiff resided in Massachusetts and the defendant in Rhode Island). With regard to the amount in controversial requirement for diversity jurisdiction, the court observed that the plaintiff’s initial good faith demand for $650,000 was more than ample to qualify the case for diversity jurisdiction (the threshold was $75,000).

As to the plaintiff’s remaining arguments on appeal, the court ruled that the district court had acted appropriately in denying the plaintiff’s motion to depose a particular expert witness, given the plaintiff’s delay in seeking relief on this issue. The court also agreed with the lower tribunal’s decision to exclude another expert’s  testimony because the expert’s opinion failed to meet the standard of admissibility on both the standard of care for a pharmacist and the likely cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. Finally, the court held that summary judgment to the defendant was proper on the plaintiff’s ch. 93A claim, given the failure of the plaintiff’s negligence and product liability claims.

Seek Legal Advice About a Misfilled Prescription Case

Just as doctors, nurses, and hospitals can be held accountable for professional negligence, pharmacies and drugstores can be subject to malpractice actions when they breach the standard of care that applied to a particular situation. If you have questions about a Cape Code pharmaceutical malpractice case, please contact the Law Offices of John C. Manoog III at 888-262-6664 or through this website. We look forward to hearing from you.

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