An appellate court has ruled that a Walgreens infant overdose lawsuit filed on behalf of the mother of a child who died of a medication error may proceed.
Prescription in Prefilled Syringes
The plaintiff in the Walgreens infant overdose lawsuit is Quatanya Seals, the mother of then-nine-month-old Kelli Danelle Brown. On March 2, 2015, a doctor prescribed the child Lovenox, a drug used to prevent the formation of blood clots. The prescription called for 0.125 milliliters of Lovenox to be administered every twelve hours, but Walgreens issued the drug in syringes that were prefilled with 0.3 milliliters.
Seals believed the syringes contained the correct dosage and injected them into her daughter, who began vomiting blood. The child was taken to Rush University Medical Center on March 11. On April 30, she died of complications from a brain bleed “caused by the administration of a higher dosage of Lovenox than prescribed.”
According to the Walgreens infant overdose lawsuit, the syringes were made out of transparent material and did not come with any demarcations for level, amount, or numerical measurements. Personal injury attorneys representing Seals argued that this would have made it impossible for any user to administer the correct dose with any degree of safety or accuracy.
“Learned Intermediary Doctrine”
Walgreens filed for a motion to dismiss, claiming that it is not liable for the child’s death because it is shielded by the “learned intermediary doctrine,” which is often at issue in pharmaceutical cases and negligence law.
According to Urbaniak v. American Drug Stores, the doctrine “helps courts to decide which participant in the chain of administering prescription drugs to consumers should be charged with the duty to warn patients about the potential adverse side effects.”
In accordance with this doctrine, Walgreens argued that it was not required to warn customers about the adverse effects of a medication or call into question the amount of the dosage. The trial court agreed and dismissed the lawsuit.
Dismissal Reversed in Walgreens Infant Overdose Lawsuit
On Sept. 30, 2021, however, Justice Mary Ellen Coghlan delivered a ruling from the Illinois 1st District Appellate Court that reversed the dismissal of Seals’ fourth amended complaint. In her written opinion, Justice Coghlan advanced the theory that Walgreens was negligent for filling the child’s prescription improperly.
Because Seals’ allegations of negligence were based upon a claim that the pharmacy improperly filled the prescription, the judge argued that the claim falls outside the purview of the learned intermediary doctrine. As such, the complaint set out facts necessary for recovery under the theory asserted.
“Therefore, because ‘sufficient facts are contained in the pleadings which, if established, could entitle the plaintiff to relief,’” wrote Justice Coghlan, “dismissal with prejudice was inappropriate.”
The Walgreens infant overdose lawsuit was then remanded to the lower court.
Helping Victims of Medication Error
Each year in the United States, 7,000 to 9,000 people die as a result of a medication error, while the total cost of caring for patients with medication-associated errors exceeds $40 billion annually. If you or a loved one have been the victim of this kind of negligence, reach out to the personal injury attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers LLC.
With more than $2 billion recovered in verdicts and settlements, GWC is one of the premier Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois. No other plaintiff firm in the state is more respected – or more feared – by its adversaries, both inside and outside of the courtroom. Our personal injury attorneys have the experience, the determination, the resources, and the reputation necessary to help you and your family get the justice you deserve.