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Walgreen Co. v. Hinchy

21 N.E.3d 99 (2014)

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Walgreen Co. v. Hinchy

Indiana Supreme Court

21 N.E.3d 99 (2014)

Facts

Abigail Hinchy (plaintiff) used Walgreen Company (defendant) as her pharmacy. In 2009, Audra Withers (defendant), a pharmacist employed at Walgreen, began dating Hinchy’s ex-boyfriend, Davion Peterson. In August 2009, Hinchy became pregnant with Peterson’s child and gave birth in May 2010. After the birth, Peterson mailed Withers a letter telling her about the baby and informing her that Peterson may have exposed her to genital herpes. Withers used the Walgreen computer to find out whether Hinchy had been prescribed any medications for sexually transmitted diseases. A few days later, Hinchy received a text message from Peterson. The text message stated that Peterson had a printout showing that Hinchy had not refilled her birth-control prescriptions prior to the pregnancy. Hinchy called Walgreen to question how Peterson had accessed the printout, but no one was available. In March 2011, Peterson mailed Hinchy a gift for the baby. Hinchy performed an internet search of the return address listed and discovered that it was Withers’s residence, that Withers and Peterson had married, and that Withers was employed by Walgreen. Hinchy informed Walgreen that she believed Withers had disclosed her prescription information to a third party. Walgreen investigated and concluded that Withers viewed Hinchy’s prescription information for personal purposes but could not confirm whether it was revealed to a third party. Hinchy filed a complaint against Withers, alleging multiple counts of negligence and against Walgreen for its own negligence; Hinchy sought liability for the claims against Withers on a respondeat superior theory. Walgreen moved for summary judgment on all claims. The trial court denied the motion, other than dismissing a negligent-training claim against Walgreen and an invasion-of-privacy claim against Withers. At trial, the trial court instructed the jury on the respondeat superior claim that Withers had admitted to acting within the course and scope of her employment when she reviewed Hinchy’s prescription information. The court denied Walgreen’s request to instruct the jury that the fact was binding only as to Withers’s negligence and not to Walgreen. The jury returned a verdict for Hinchy. Walgreen appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Baker, J.)

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