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2000-04-14
Rockland, ME. Wal-Mart Gives Up on Court Case

An 80 year old woman has outlasted Wal-Mart in the Maine court system, but she needed a jury, a judge and the Supreme Court to do it. 80 year old Antoinette Walter, was the victim of a Wal-Mart pharmacist's mistake. Walter's doctor had diagnosed her with a form of lymphatic cancer in the spring of 1997, and prescribed a generic drug called Chlorambucil. The brand name for this drug is Leukeran. But when Walters went to Wal-Mart to get her prescription filled, the pharmacist gave her a drug that was the generic prescription for a drug called Alkeran. Leukeran and Alkeran sound somewhat similar, but Walter's doctor had specifically asked for Chlorambucil. When Walter started taking the wrong medication, by the fourth week she had bruises on her arms and legs and a skin rash. She was rushed to the hospital on June 3, 1997, and spent the next four days under close care, followed by blood transfusions after she left the hospital. Her blood count had dropped so low she needed the transfusions. Walker sued Wal-Mart, and won a $550,000 award from the trail jury. But Wal-Mart appealed the decision, claiming the award was excessive. Wal-Mart lost a second time at the Appellate level, but still kept fighting Walter. Not only was this woman fighting cancer, she was fighting the world's largest retailer at the same time. Finally, three years after the incident took place, the case went to the seven justices on the Maine Supreme Court, and all seven justices ruled against Wal-Mart. Only after three years of dragging this elder through the courts did Wal-Mart admit that it had exhausted its appeal, and would abide by the ruling.

What you can do: Walter's attorney said "this case is simply about holding Wal-Mart accountable and getting Wal-Mart to accept responsibility, something they would not voluntarily do. It has taken a jury, a trial judge and the appellate court to get them to finally take responsibility." After the trial jury rendered its verdicct, the Judge in the case remarked that their decision "sent a message about the duty and care of a pharmacist", and that it was a step "we took together". Wal-Mart tried to get the case thrown out, claiming that the Judge was biased against Wal-Mart. Antoinette Walter finally got Wal-Mart to accept responsibility -- but they made her do it the hard way. Q: Class, what does this case of an elderly woman suing Wal-Mart tell us about the ethics of corporate America? Case dismissed.










 
 
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