The Supreme Court of Alabama recently released an opinion granting the appellant’s request for the state’s high court to intervene in the case and compel the trial judge to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim as time-barred. The statute of limitations for the plaintiff’s claim had expired shortly before the defendant’s motion was filed, and the motion was ultimately granted because the plaintiff had originally sued the wrong entity after an oversight was made. After the error was discovered, the complaint was not amended to include the proper defendant until after the limitations period had expired. Since the court found that the requirements for an amended complaint to “relate back” to an original filing and toll the statute of limitations were not met, the plaintiff will be unable to recover damages for his pharmacy error claim.
The plaintiff in the case of Ex Rel VEL, LLC is a former customer of a pharmacy owned and operated by the defendant. In the events leading to the filing of the lawsuit, the plaintiff was allegedly given an antipsychotic medicine, Risperidone, instead of his blood-pressure medicine, Ropinirole. After taking the wrong pills for four days, the plaintiff allegedly experienced an adverse health event and was hospitalized, at which point the error was ultimately discovered. Claiming that he suffered permanent and serious harm as a result of the mistake, he pursued a pharmacy error claim against the pharmacy that made the mistake.
The Owners of the Pharmacy Owned Other Entities As Well
The plaintiff’s attorney inadvertently filed the lawsuit against VEL, LLC, which was an entity that specialized in medical supply provisions and was owned by the same people who owned the pharmacy. However, VEL, LLC did not itself have any stake in the pharmacy or any involvement in the plaintiff’s claim. The defendant proceeded as if the plaintiff had sued the correct entity and did not notify the court or the plaintiff of the plaintiff’s mistake until after the statute of limitations had run.
An Amendment That “Relates Back” May Be Used to Extend the Statute of Limitations
The district court’s initial ruling rejected the defendant’s motion, finding that the plaintiff’s claim related back to the original complaint. However, that ruling was reversed on appeal. An amended pleading relates back to the original pleading if the added information arose out of the same occurrence or course of events as the original complaint, or if the amendment was simply to replace a fictitious name that could not be determined with due diligence at the time of filing.
Finding that the plaintiff’s amended complaint did not attempt to replace a fictitious name with the defendant’s actual identity, but instead it replaced it with a separate company owned by the same people, the court found that the amendment could not relate back to the original pleading and that the plaintiff’s case could not proceed. This case shows that even seemingly small mistakes or oversights can be extremely harmful and threaten what may be an otherwise strong case.
Are You a Victim of a Pharmacy Error or Prescription Mistake?
If you or a loved one has been a victim of a pharmacy error or medication mistake, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The skilled and experienced Maryland prescription error attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC can help you make your claim for relief in an expedient and effective manner. Our qualified Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. medical malpractice and pharmacy error attorneys routinely turn pharmacist’s mistakes into financial awards for our clients. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we represent clients in Maryland, Northern Virginia, and the entire Washington, D.C. area in pharmacy error and other medical malpractice claims. Call us toll-free at 1-800-654-1949 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Grandmother’s Death Resulting from Pharmacist’s Error Highlights Dangers of Overworked Pharmacists, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, December 15, 2016.
New Study Shows that Many Pharmacies Fail to Detect Clearly Dangerous Drug Combinations When Filling Prescriptions, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, January 2, 2017.