The Supreme Court of Mississippi (“Mississippi Supreme Court”) stated in its decision dated March 5, 2020 that the issue before it was whether a claim asserted against a pharmacy for allegedly mis-filling a prescription is subject to the two-year professional-malpractice statute of limitations in Mississippi Code Section 15-1-36 or the three-year catch-all statute of limitations in Mississippi Code Section 15-1-49. The Mississippi Supreme Court held that the two-year medical malpractice statute of limitations applied.
The Underlying Facts
In May 2015, the plaintiff was being treated for high blood pressure and was prescribed two milligrams of hydralazine two times a day. Some time between May 20, 2015, and May 27, 2015, the plaintiff had this prescription filled at Delta Discount Drugs (“Delta”). Delta, however, allegedly mis-filled the plaintiff’s prescription with twenty-five milligram tablets of hydroxyzine, rather than the prescribed two milligram tablets of hydralazine. On June 19, 2015, the plaintiff was hospitalized after he had blacked out while driving, allegedly due to the misfilled prescription.
On November 4, 2016, the plaintiff sent Delta a notice-of-claim letter indicating that the plaintiff intended to sue Delta for “pharmaceutical negligence and resultant damages.” On May, 1, 2018, the plaintiff filed suit against Delta in the Circuit Court of Coahoma County, Mississippi. The plaintiff couched his complaint in terms of “plain and simple negligence.” The plaintiff, however, attached two exhibits to his complaint: the November 4, 2016 notice-of-claim letter and the plaintiff’s “certificate of consultation required in medical malpractice actions.” The plaintiff asserted claims of negligence per se, general negligence, negligent misrepresentation, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and gross negligence against Delta for allegedly mis-filling his prescription.
Delta filed a motion to dismiss with prejudice, averring that the plaintiff’s suit was time barred under the applicable two-year limitations period in Section 15-1-36. The circuit court granted Delta’s motion to dismiss after determining that the two-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice actions applied to the plaintiff’s claims: “the heart of [the plaintiff’s] complaint goes to those services performed by the pharmacist, who is the professional.” The plaintiff appealed, arguing that because he has filed his action against the pharmacy rather than the pharmacist, the three-year statute of limitations found in Mississippi Code Section 15-1-49(1) (Rev. 2019) applies to his claims.
Mississippi Supreme Court Decision
Mississippi Code Section 15-1-36 provides in relevant part: “no claim in tort may be brought against a licensed . . . pharmacist . . . for injuries . . . arising out of the course of medical, surgical or other professional services unless it is filed within (2) two years from the date the alleged act, omission or neglect shall or with reasonable diligence might have been first known or discovered.”
The Mississippi Supreme Court stated, “Because pharmacists are explicitly included in Section 15-1-36, it is clear that the Legislature intended for tortious injuries arising out of the course of professional services provided by a licensed pharmacist be subject to a two-year statute of limitations.”
The Mississippi Supreme Court held: “we find that [the plaintiff’s] injuries arise out of the course of professional services that may be performed only by or through a licensed pharmacist. Therefore, the circuit court properly determined that [the plaintiff’s] claims were untimely, having been filed beyond the two-year period found in Section 15-1-36.”
“Because the alleged act that [the plaintiff] complains of necessarily occurred during the course of professional services provided by a licenced pharmacist, we find that [the plaintiff’s] claims are subject to the two-year statute of limitations governing medical-malpractice actions. Said differently, [the plaintiff’s] alleged injury arises out of the course of professional services specifically contemplated by Section 15-1-36—a licensed pharmacist engaged in the practice of pharmacy. Therefore, the statute of limitations for medical-malpractice claims applies and bars [the plaintiff’s] suit … any claim that [the plaintiff] asserts against Delta that is predicated upon the doctrine of respondeat superior would also be subject to the two-year medical-malpractice statute of limitations.”
Source Wolfe v. Delta Discount Drugs, Inc., No. 2019-CA-00160-SCT.
If you or a loved one suffered serious harm (or worse) as a result of a medication error in Mississippi or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a Mississippi medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your medication mistake claim for you and represent you in a pharmacy negligence case, if appropriate.
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