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Ohio County Drug Co. v. Howard

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

December 14, 1923, Decided

No Number in Original

Opinion

 [**706]   [*348]  OPINION OF THE COURT BY JUDGE CLARKE--Reversing.

From an attack of influenza, plaintiff, Mrs. Flora Howard, was confined to bed for four or five days in January 1919, after which she resumed her household duties  [*349]  as well as her duties as assistant to the superintendent of schools for Ohio county. She was not fully recovered, however, and continued to be extremely nervous and considerably run-down, until in April she developed neuralgia. Her physician then prescribed as a sedative a mixture of two ounces of penta bromide and one ounce of paraldahyde. The defendant drug company, in filling the prescription, by mistake substituted a solution of formaldehyde for paraldehyde, and plaintiff took a teaspoonful of the mixture diluted in a small quantity of water as directed on the bottle and in the prescription. For injuries alleged to have resulted therefrom, she instituted this action, and recovered a judgment for $ 3,000.00, of [***2]  which $ 2,000.00 was allowed as compensatory damages, $ 700.00 for hospital and medical expenses, and $ 300.00 as punitive damages.

The chief grounds of complaint by the defendant are, that punitive damages were not recoverable; that the verdict is excessive in the amounts allowed as compensation and for medical and hospital expenses; and that the court erred in several rulings with reference to the pleadings and evidence, and in the instructions given.

Plaintiff alleged gross and wanton negligence. The instructions authorized the jury to award compensatory damages, including hospital fees and medical expenses, if the defendant "failed to exercise slight care" in filling the prescription; and to allow punitive damages in addition if the defendant "was grossly negligent in so doing."

There was no reference in the instructions to wanton or willful or reckless negligence, and gross negligence was defined as the "failure to exercise slight care." It is therefore apparent at once that both compensatory and punitive damages were predicated upon precisely the same degree of negligence.

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201 Ky. 346 *; 256 S.W. 705 **; 1923 Ky. LEXIS 286 ***; 31 A.L.R. 1355

Ohio County Drug Company v. Howard.

Prior History:  [***1]  Appeal from Ohio Circuit Court.

Disposition: Reversed and remanded.

CORE TERMS

punitive damages, experiment, cases, druggist, damages, ordinary care, compensatory, gross negligence, instructions, prescription, expenses, filling, circumstances, predicated, mixture, drugs

Civil Procedure, Remedies, Damages, Punitive Damages, Torts, Types of Damages, Compensatory Damages, General Overview, Punitive Damages, Negligence, Gross Negligence, Standards of Care, Reasonable Care, Reasonable Person