Under Maryland law, most cases must be brought within three years from when the claim “accrues.” However, when someone ingests a dangerous medication, the potential harms of the drug may not be immediately apparent. This is true in both pharmacy errors, where a pharmacist provides a patient with the wrong medication, and also in cases involving dangerous prescription drugs that are marketed as safe. This raises the question, when to these Maryland pharmacy error cases accrue?
Maryland courts employ the “discovery of harm” method when determining when a claim begins to accrue. Thus, it is only when a plaintiff becomes aware of their injuries that the clock starts ticking. A recent federal appellate decision involving a dangerous prescription drug illustrates how courts engage in this type of analysis.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s recitation of the facts, in 1999, the plaintiff was prescribed Vioxx by her physician to relieve pain and inflammation. The following year, the plaintiff suffered “cardiovascular injuries” while taking the medication. However, the plaintiff’s doctor continued to prescribe Vioxx, and the plaintiff continued to take the medication. In 2002, the plaintiff discontinued the use of Vioxx.
Evidently, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, scientists were researching the link between Vioxx and cardiovascular problems. However, it was not until 2002 that Merck, the company that manufactures Vioxx, changed the drug’s label to reflect the fact that it may cause cardiovascular problems.
In 2006, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against Merck in a state with a five-year statute of limitations. Merck claimed that the plaintiff’s lawsuit was filed after the applicable statute of limitations because her claim began to accrue before 2001. The trial court agreed, and the plaintiff appealed.
On appeal, the court reversed the lower court’s judgment, finding that there was a factual issue as to when the plaintiff’s claim began to accrue. Thus, the court remanded the case so that a jury could determine whether the statute of limitations prevented the plaintiff’s case. The court explained that the research regarding whether Vioxx caused cardiovascular problems was conflicting, and that as late as September 2001 Merck openly challenged those studies indicating that Vioxx was potentially dangerous. The court reasoned that, given the state of scientific research at the time the jury should determine whether “the evidence was such to place a reasonably prudent person on notice of a potentially actionable injury” before September 2001.
Have You Been Injured by a Dangerous Drug?
If you or a someone you love has recently been injured after a Maryland pharmacy error or after taking a dangerous drug that you were told was safe, contact the dedicated Maryland personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we have a dedicated team of pharmacy error attorney who routinely handles these complex cases. Our attorneys work closely with an extensive network of expert witnesses who can assist our clients in explaining how their injuries were the result of the medication they ingested. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Statutes of Limitations in Maryland Pharmacy Error Cases, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, January 23, 2019.
ISMP Hopes Maryland Pharmacists Will Take Extra Precautions After Fatal Pharmacy Error, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, February 4, 2019.