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$1.8M verdict against Walgreen for pharmacist’s data breach stands

January 15, 2015

The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected Thursday several claims raised by Walgreen Co. on rehearing, holding that the company and its pharmacists are liable for damages sustained by the plaintiff after the pharmacist divulged her prescription records to a third party.

Abigail Hinchy sued Walgreen Co. and pharmacist Audra Withers claiming, among other things, negligence/professional malpractice, invasion of privacy/public disclosure of preface facts, negligent training and retention, and intrusion of privacy/intrusion.

Withers was dating the father of Hinchy’s child when she disclosed to him what medications Hinchy was currently taking, which included medication for a sexually transmitted disease. A Marion County jury awarded Hinchy $1.8 million, of which Walgreen and Withers were responsible for 80 percent.  

In November, the Court of Appeals affirmed, finding the trial court did not err in denying the company’s summary judgment and directed verdict motions on respondeat superior liability; the trial court did not commit reversible error with respect to an ex parte brief filed by Hinchy; the jury instructions were not erroneous; and the damages award was not excessive.

In Walgreen Co. v. Abigail E. Hinchy, 49A02-1311-CT-950, the appeals court on rehearing affirmed its original decision, finding Hinchy did explicitly raise the claim of negligence/professional malpractice against Walgreen. The judges also rejected Walgreen’s claim that the appeals court erred when it asserted Walgreen had failed to appeal the denial of summary judgment or directed verdict on the claim of invasion of privacy through public disclosure of private facts.

The judges also pointed out that there is evidence on the record that Davion Peterson, the father of Hinchy’s child, did share certain information he learned from Withers with three other individuals. As such, Walgreen’s claim the COA erred in stating he shared information about Hinchy must fail.

 

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