Mom Sues Pharmacy After Daughter's Fatal Overdose

Simone Allen says her daughter died because of a pharmacy error.

ByABC News
August 21, 2013, 9:45 AM

Aug. 22, 2013— -- A Houston mother is suing her longtime pharmacy, claiming that a dosage error led to her daughter's death.

Simone Allen says her 6-year-old daughter, Jadalyn, died after taking a dose of morphine 10 times higher than her prescription called for. Jadalyn had been taking the liquid painkiller off and on for sickle cell anemia.

"They gave me the medicine to help her with her pain, and it ended up killing her," Allen told ABC affiliate KTRK.

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Jadalyn died April 3, 2012, one day after taking the mega dosage, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Harris County District Court against Cullen Care Pharmacy. The cause of Jadalyn's death was "morphine toxicity," according to the lawsuit.

Allen's lawyer, Muhammad Aziz, said he had hoped to settle out of court, but negotiations "fell apart" when the pharmacy's insurance company blamed Jadalyn's death on her blood disorder instead of a pharmacy error.

"There's more than enough evidence to support our claim," said Aziz, citing what he says are facts established by the coroner's report, pharmacy records that reflect the dosage discrepancy and tests on the remaining contents of the morphine bottle. "Frankly, I'm surprised it had to come to this."

Because of Texas tort reform, damages in the case are capped at $250,000. But Aziz said it's not about the money.

"Miss Allen hopes that Cullen Pharmacy and all other pharmacies will pay more attention to the training of their employees," he said. "I think that's her primary goal."

A tearful Allen told KTRK she also wants an apology.

"I lost my child," she said. "Why wouldn't you call me?"

Michele Quattlebaum, a lawyer for Cullen Care Pharmacy, said she had just received a copy of the lawsuit and could not comment on pending litigation.

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Sickle cell anemia is a disease in which misshapen red blood cells slow the delivery of oxygen throughout the body. Symptoms include swelling of the hands and feet, fatigue and frequent infections, as well as periods of pain called "crises."

Learn more about sickle cell anemia.

To ease the pain, Allen gave her daughter a single dose of the oral morphine solution, which was dispensed at a dose of 20 milligrams per 1 milliliter rather than the prescribed 20 milligrams per 10 milliliters, according to Aziz.

"It was initially handled as a criminal investigation into whether Miss Allen had accidentally given her daughter too much," he said. "But that was quickly ruled out."

Aziz said it could take another 18 months for a trial – an agonizing wait for a mother mourning her young daughter.

"I don't want anyone to ever have to go through what I've been through," Allen said.