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Wainwright v. Fontenot

Louisiana Supreme Court
774 So.2d 70 (2000)


John Scott Wainwright (plaintiff), a child, experienced stress and anxiety after receiving a burn. Wainwright’s psychiatrist prescribed 5 milligrams (mg) of Prozac daily. A normal adult dose was 20 mg, but the psychiatrist ordered 5 mg because Wainwright was a child. Wainwright’s parents took the prescription to a pharmacy operated by Walgreen Louisiana Company (defendant). The pharmacist filling the prescription, Romana Fontenot (defendant), labeled the dosage as 20 mg daily instead of the 5 mg ordered by Wainwright’s psychiatrist. For two days, Wainwright exhibited irrational, violent behavior and threatened to do harm to himself and others. Wainwright’s father called Walgreen to verify the dosage, and a Walgreen employee told him that she had confirmed a 20 mg dosage, although in fact she had not checked the original prescription. The next day—on the third day—Wainwright’s father called the psychiatrist and learned that the dosage Wainwright had been taking was four times too high. Wainwright was taken to the hospital for observation and released the next day. Wainwright and Wainwright’s parents sued Fontenot and Walgreen. Wainwright sued for medical damages, general damages, and past and future counseling expenses. The parents sued for loss of consortium that they claimed was caused by the overdose. At trial, the jury awarded Wainwright $1,500 in medical damages and no money for general damages. The jury awarded nothing to the parents. The Wainwrights appealed. The appellate court amended the judgment and awarded an additional $40,000 in general damages and changed the medical damages from $1,500 to $7,372. Walgreen and Fontenot appealed to the state supreme court.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kimball, J.)

Concurrence (Lemmon, J.)

Dissent (Johnson, J.)

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