TAMPA -- A court order from U.S. District Court, in the Middle District of Florida’s Tampa Division on Feb. 16 shows some of the dangers of providing medical advice in an informal setting, or going outside of strictly observed protocol in a commercial pharmacy.
The plaintiff, Sara Hausmann, went to a CVS inside a Target store to get prescription for birth control. When the medication on the prescription was not available, a pharmacist recommended a different product.
The result led Hausmann to allege pain and suffering, loss of past and future earnings, medical expenses, mental anguish, physical injuries and disability. The complaint, which includes two counts, shows Hausmann is pursuing legal action against CVS and Target, arguing that Target was involved vicariously in the transaction. Court opinion cited the complaint this way:
“CVS was the agent, servant and/or subsidiary
of Target acting within the scope of the ownership agreement between the parties.”
The plaintiff did not specify the amount of damages, leaving the court to consider jurisdictional amounts, in which previous case law was cited suggesting that courts can use common sense to determine whether Hausmann’s damages meet a $75,000 threshold. In considering damages, the court called the information provided on behalf of the plaintiff “vague and inexact” and suggested the court would have to engage in “rank speculation” to make figures more concrete.
Judge Virginia Hernandez Covington remanded the case to the 13th Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County Florida, resolving the jurisdictional issue. However, it seems this case will still move forward.
The court’s opinion lays out the issue with the case as it is presented – it’s not that the case lacks merit, according to the judge. However, issues of damages calculations affect jurisdiction, and courts are batting the matter back and forth.
Will the plaintiff be able to pinpoint damages? Will another court tackle the essential issue? In the end, the essential complaint of negligent medical recommendations has not been broached but is likely to be a sticking point.