O'Dell v. Greenwich Healthcare Services Inc.
Even if a hospital pharmacy adds a charge when the hospital pharmacy bills a patient for medicine, the pharmacy may not qualify as a "product seller," for purposes of the Connecticut Product Liability Act. Allegedly, the plaintiff, Robert O'Dell, underwent convulsions and was unable to breathe, after a doctor administered neuraxial medicine that Bryce RX Laboratories Inc. formulated in connection with O'Dell's pain management therapy. The plaintiff filed a product-liability action, alleging that the neuraxial medicine was defective and that the defendant's hospital pharmacy purchased and re-sold the medicine. The plaintiff maintained that a mix was formulated specifically for the plaintiff's treatment and that the hospital pharmacy purchased the medicine for $117 and sold the medicine to the plaintiff for $234. The defendants moved to dismiss and argued that they did not qualify as "product sellers," for purposes of the Connecticut Product Liability Act, Connecticut General Statutes §52-572m. Glen Taylor filed an affidavit, which described the process that the hospital pharmacy uses to obtain the neuraxial medicine. Taylor claimed that the hospital pharmacy verified that Bryce Laboratories was an appropriate source of the medicine and that O'Dell was an appropriate recipient, after considering his medical history and use of other medicine. The hospital pharmacy distributed instructions about the manner of distribution. It did not mix, formulate, manufacture or test the neuraxial medicine. The court found that the doctor and the hospital provided the plaintiff a treatment and a service, and that they did not qualify as "product sellers." The possibility that the defendant hospital might have received "a very small profit from charge on O'Dell's bill for pharmacy services," wrote the court, did not change the result. The court granted the defense motion for summary judgment on the plaintiff's product-liability count. In a separate memorandum, the court denied a motion to seal exhibits that concerned the plaintiff's medical treatment. "[I]t is generally recognized in lawsuits of this nature," wrote the court, "that the plaintiff's medical condition and treatment is subject to scrutiny."