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Family Awarded $33.3 Million in Verdict Against Walgreens

03/1/2010
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Searcy Denney Secures Judgment in Appellate Court in Suit over Fatal Prescription Error

West Palm Beach, FL. (March 01, 2010) – South Florida law firm Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley PA (Searcy Denney) announced today that the Second District Court of Appeal has upheld a multi-million dollar decision on behalf of the family of a Lakeland, Florida woman who eventually died as a result of a prescription error by a Walgreens pharmacist.

Plaintiff Beth Hippely, her husband Deane Hippely, and their children originally filed suitagainst Walgreens for negligence and wrongful death after Ms. Hippely suffered a massive stroke due to a mis-filled prescription.

The jury in the trial, which took place in the Tenth Judicial Circuit Court in Polk County in 2007, awarded the Hippely family $25.8 million. Ms. Hippely died earlier in 2007 before the verdict.

Walgreens appealed the jury verdict primarily on grounds of excessiveness and comments made in closing argument. In a per curiam opinion, the Second District Court of Appeal found that the lower court handled the case appropriately, affirmed the ruling, and awarded the Hippely family a total of $33.3 million, which included taxable costs and interest.

Hippely, a 42 year-old mother of three, was being treated for breast cancer in 2002, and optimistic doctors gave her an 88% percent chance of survival. She was put on chemotherapy treatments and prescribed 1 milligram of Warfarin, a blood-thinning medication. Instead, Walgreens provided a dosage 10 times that strength.

The jury found that the prescription error caused a cerebral hemorrhage resulting in permanent bodily injury, disability, and physical pain. As a result, Ms. Hippely was forced to stop the chemotherapy treatments, resulting in her death.

“Beth Hippely died unnecessarily because the tenfold overdose of Warfarin filled by the pharmacy she trusted made it impossible to combat the cancer that killed her,” said Chris Searcy of Searcy Denney. “The negligence in this case went well beyond simple human error. There was egregious failure to manage and supervise.”

According to court documents, a 19-year old pharmacy technician, with little training, misfilled the prescription. The pharmacist responsible for verifying Mrs. Hippely’s prescription was not made aware of the error until three years later when she was deposed by Karen Terry, a Searcy Denney partner who also represented the family in this case.

“Walgreens calls itself ‘The Pharmacy America Trusts,'” said Terry. “Tragically, the sufferings of Beth Hippely, her husband and her children, prove otherwise.”

 

About Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, PA:

A nationally recognized trial law firm, Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, P.A. is committed to protecting and vindicating the rights of people injured through negligence, deceit and abuse of power. Over the past 40 years, the firm has represented clients in courtrooms throughout Florida and across the nation. For more information, contact Derede McAlpin at 202-973-1314 or dmcalpin@levick.com.

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