Federal Court Refuses to Impose Sanctions Against Pharmacy for Destruction of Evidence in Prescription Error Lawsuit

A United States District Court recently issued a decision that denied a plaintiff’s request to impose sanctions against a defendant for destroying evidence before trial on the plaintiff’s pharmacy error claim. The plaintiff had alleged that the defendant, who had already admitted to accidentally dispensing the wrong medication to the plaintiff, destroyed the evidence in order to gain an advantage in litigation against the plaintiff. The court ultimately rejected the plaintiff’s request for additional sanctions and damages against the defendant, ruling that the defendant’s admission of the pharmacy error made the evidence sought by the plaintiff irrelevant to the issues presented in the case. The court ruled that since the plaintiff’s case was not prejudiced by the defendant’s actions, the requested sanctions would not be appropriate.

Plaintiff’s Claim Arises After Pharmacy Accidentally Dispenses the Wrong Medication

According to an article discussing the court’s recent ruling in the case, the plaintiff in the case of Burton v. Walgreen Co. was a customer of the defendant who filled a prescription for valsartan tablets but was instead given a bottle containing both his prescribed medication as well as lithium tablets. The plaintiff consumed five of the pills before noticing the error and returning the medication. The plaintiff subsequently filed a pharmacy error lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that he suffered injuries as a result of the wrong medication being dispensed by the defendant.

The Defendant Is Unable to Produce the Prescription Bottle During Pretrial Discovery

Before the plaintiff’s claim went to trial, he submitted a request for the defendant to produce the bottle containing the wrongfully dispensed medication to use as evidence. The defendant notified the plaintiff that the bottle had been disposed of pursuant to company policy, but it admitted that the wrong medication was dispensed to the plaintiff. After discovering that the defendant had destroyed the bottle, the plaintiff accused the defendant of spoliation, or intentionally destroying relevant evidence to gain an advantage, and requested sanctions from the court. The plaintiff’s request was ultimately denied because the defendant had already admitted the error, but the court left open the possibility for the imposition of sanctions in pharmacy error cases in which a defendant destroys evidence after denying that an error was made.

Preservation of Evidence in Florida Pharmacy Error Claims

Defendants in Florida pharmacy error and medical malpractice claims have a legal duty to preserve relevant evidence that is in their possession once they have knowledge that a plaintiff may pursue a legal claim against them. Defendants who intentionally destroy such evidence and commit spoliation may be subject to sanctions by the court. Possible sanctions for evidence spoliation may include a financial award to the plaintiff, the exclusion of evidence favorable to the defendant, and instructions for the jury to make the inference that the destroyed evidence would have been unfavorable to the defendant. Although sanctions and remedies for spoliation are designed to discourage parties from destroying relevant evidence, the practice is still common. Florida medical malpractice and pharmacy error victims should always independently document any evidence that may be relevant to their claim before returning it to the defendant. A skilled Florida pharmacy error attorney may be able to use such evidence as part of the plaintiff’s case, as well as in support of a motion for sanctions if the defendant ultimately destroys or alters the evidence.

Pursuing Damages Through a Florida Pharmacy Error Claim

If you or a family member has been dispensed the wrong medication by a pharmacy, you may have the right to pursue a Florida pharmacy error claim against the pharmacy if you suffered an illness, injury, or other harm as a result of the error. The negative effects of a pharmacy error are not always immediately noticeable, and pharmacies may downplay the possible consequences of an error once it is made to discourage victims from taking legal action. If you think a mistake has been made, seeking legal counsel immediately is the best way to preserve your right to seek damages. The qualified Miami pharmacy error attorneys at Friedman, Rodman & Frank can effectively fight for the compensation that you deserve. Our experienced and knowledgeable South Florida malpractice lawyers represent clients in pharmacy error, medical malpractice, and other negligence cases throughout South Florida. Contact us to schedule a free consultation today. Call us toll-free at 877-448-8585 or use our web-based form to be put in touch with a skilled attorney and discuss your case.

More Blog Posts:

Federal Court Awards Additional Damages to Plaintiff Based On Insurance Company’s Bad Faith, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published September 9, 2016.

Court Upholds Verdict in Icy Road Car Accident Case, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published September 23, 2016.

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