The four elements of negligence are duty, breach, causation, and damages. A plaintiff must prove all four elements. Sometimes the most fundamental issue of a negligence claim is in dispute: if the defendant even owed a duty to the plaintiff at all. In a recent Fifth District case, the court considered the extent of a pharmacy’s duty to its customer.
In Oleckna v. Daytona Discount Pharmacy, a man was being treated by a doctor for “stress syndrome” with prescriptions for Alprazolam and Acetaminophen combined with either Oxycodone or Hydrocodone. The pharmacy allegedly filled thirty or more prescriptions written days before the previous prescription should have been finished. The man ultimately died as the result of a combined drug intoxication of Alprazolam and Hydrocodone.
His personal representative sued both the doctor and the pharmacy on behalf of the estate. The doctor settled, but the pharmacy did not. The plaintiff alleged that the pharmacy owed the man various duties, including using proper care in filling the prescriptions; exercising the same level of care as a reasonably prudent and similarly situated pharmacist; not filling unreasonable prescriptions; warning of the dangers; complying with the pharmacy’s policies and procedures and relevant statutes and regulations; and not subjecting the man to unreasonable risk of harm.