Klasch v. Walgreen Co.

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Justia Opinion Summary

The children of Helen Klasch brought a wrongful-death action against Walgreens Pharmacy after Klasch had a fatal reaction to medication dispensed by Walgreens. The pharmacy had information before releasing the medication to Klasch that she was allergic to the medication. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Walgreens on the basis that, under the learned-intermediary doctrine followed in a majority of jurisdictions, the pharmacist's limited duty was to properly fill the prescription, as written by the physician, unless there was plain error or the prescription was obviously fatal. The Supreme Court (1) adopted the learned-intermediary doctrine in the context of pharmacist/customer tort litigation because the public-policy considerations behind doctrine were sound; but (2) in circumstances in which a pharmacist has knowledge of a customer-specific risk with respect to a prescribed medication, the learned-intermediary doctrine does not insulate a pharmacist from liability, and the pharmacist has a duty to exercise reasonable care in warning the customer or notifying the prescribing doctor of this risk. Remanded to resolve factual issues as to breach of duty and causation of injury.