$25.8 Million Verdict in Walgreens Wrongful Death Suit

Aug 17, 2007 9:40pm

A Florida jury has awarded damages of $25.8 million to the family of a mother who died following a misfilled prescription by a high school technician at a Florida Walgreens store. A "20/20" report last March investigating prescription drug errors featured the case of Beth Hippely, a stay-at-home mother of three children who suffered a massive stroke after Walgreens dispensed the wrong dosage of a powerful blood thinning medication to her. Watch the video of Brian Ross’ Investigation on "20/20." The mistake crippled her and forced her to stop her needed chemotherapy. She died earlier this year after her cancer returned. THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS Photos 4-Month Investigation Into Pharmacy Errors 20/20 VideoPharmacy Errors: Unreported Epidemic? Full Blotter Coverage Pharmacy Investigation Click Here to Check Out Brian Ross Slideshows "The jury found that the negligence of Walgreens not only caused her initial brain injury, but also found it was the cause of her breast cancer recurring and subsequently her death," said Hippely attorney Chris Searcy. In Hippely’s case, a 19-year-old pharmacy technician mistakenly gave her a prescription of Coumadin that was 10 times more powerful than what she was prescribed. The drug, a potent blood thinner, was prescribed to Hippely while she was being treated for breast cancer. Walgreens’ policy is that technicians are not supposed to fill actual prescriptions without the supervision and final approval from a pharmacist. The jury deliberated less than four hours before rendering a verdict, according to Karen Terry, another Hippely attorney. "This is a case of profits over safety where a company’s aggressive growth strategy resulted in a tragic prescription error," said Terry. She said the verdict’s announcement was "the first time I’ve seen Mr. Hippely smile in the three years I’ve represented him…He lost his wife. He’s never going to get her back, but he feels vindicated." A spokesperson for Walgreens told the Blotter on ABCNews.com that the company is "truly sorry for what the Hippely family has been through, and we’ve personally apologized to them. We have been, and continue to be, the leader in pharmacy safety initiatives. We had hoped the verdict would have been fair and reasonable." Do you have a tip for Brian Ross and the Investigative Team?

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