New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims

ROBINSON v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, #2006-031-518, Claim No. 109413


Synopsis


Claimant demonstrated that State negligently provided him with wrong medication. Claimant awarded $750.00

Case Information

UID:
2006-031-518
Claimant(s):
MICHAEL ROBINSON
Claimant short name:
ROBINSON
Footnote (claimant name) :

Defendant(s):
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :

Third-party claimant(s):

Third-party defendant(s):

Claim number(s):
109413
Motion number(s):

Cross-motion number(s):

Judge:
RENÉE FORGENSI MINARIK
Claimant’s attorney:
MICHAEL ROBINSON, PRO SE
Defendant’s attorney:
HON. ELIOT SPITZER
New York State Attorney General
BY: HEATHER R. RUBINSTEIN, ESQ.Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant’s attorney:

Signature date:
September 26, 2006
City:
Rochester
Comments:

Official citation:

Appellate results:

See also (multicaptioned case)

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Decision
Claimant, Michael Robinson, filed Claim No. 109413 on May 28, 2004, alleging he was the victim of negligence and medical malpractice at Auburn Correctional Facility (“Auburn”). He alleges that between August 29, 2002 and October 26, 2002, through some error relating to inmate identification numbers, Defendant mistakenly gave Claimant the prescription medication Lipitor, instead of the asthmatic pump that he was supposed to have received. He alleges that this mistake caused various medical problems for which he seeks damages in the amount of $250,000.00. I held the trial of this claim at Auburn on July 26, 2006.
Defendant conceded that, during the two-month period in question, Claimant was mistakenly given Lipitor, a medication used to lower cholesterol levels, instead of the asthma medication that he was supposed to have received. The Defendant argued, however, that despite the mistake, Claimant suffered no damages.
As far as the extent of his damages, Claimant presented no expert medical proof that taking Lipitor and not having his asthma medication for two months harmed Claimant in any permanent way. Claimant testified that taking Lipitor gave him headaches, heartburn, skin rashes and caused his cholesterol level to increase. Claimant’s ambulatory health record (exhibit A) indicates that Claimant’s first complaint relating to the alleged negative effects of the improper medication was in late December of 2002.
Grace Ellegate, the supervising pharmacist at Auburn, testified that the half-life for Lipitor is 14 hours. This means that all traces of the medication would be gone from Claimant’s system within one week of discontinuing the medication. Claimant received his last prescription of Lipitor, a one-month supply, on October 23, 2002. According to Ms. Ellegate, any adverse side effects of the medication would, therefore, have subsided by November 30, 2002. She also testified that Lipitor could not have been responsible for raising Claimant’s cholesterol. Ms. Ellegate did concede, however, that, although unlikely, Lipitor could cause headaches, heartburn and rashes. Specifically, she testified that headaches occurred in less than 2% of cases and heartburn and rash could be attributed to Lipitor in less than 1% of cases. Interestingly, Ms. Ellegate also pointed out that, at least by 2004, Claimant’s medical records indicate that his triglyceride levels were within a range for which Claimant could have been prescribed Lipitor.
A cause of action sounding in medical negligence, in essence, alleges negligent omissions or commissions by State caregivers which can be readily determined without the necessity of expert testimony. However, this theory is limited to “those cases where the alleged negligent act may be readily determined by the trier of the facts based on common knowledge” (Coursen v New York Hospital-Cornell Med. Center, 114 AD2d 254, 256). Such cases have involved scalding a patient with a hot water bottle (Phillips v Buffalo General Hospital, 239 NY 188), leaving an electric light bulb under the sheets (Dillon v Rockaway Beach Hospital, 284 NY 176), leaving a postoperative patient unattended in a bathroom (Coursen v New York Hospital-Cornell Med. Center, supra), and other similar circumstances.
I find that Claimant has demonstrated a prima facie case of medical negligence. Simply put, Defendant negligently gave Claimant another inmate’s medication, thereby failing to give Claimant the medication he required.
Although there is no indication in the record before me that Claimant suffered any permanent or severe injuries, I credit his testimony that he suffered from headaches, heartburn and rashes, and received no relief from his asthma during the period in question. Accordingly, I award the sum of $750.00. To the extent that Claimant has paid a filing fee, it may be recovered pursuant to Court of Claims Act §11-a(2). Any and all motions on which the Court may have previously reserved decision are hereby denied.
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.

September 26, 2006
Rochester, New York

HON. RENÉE FORGENSI MINARIK
Judge of the Court of Claims