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By: Joyce M. Mocek
Recently, the Eleventh Circuit, applying Florida law, held that eleven claims of bodily injury by separate patients all against a pharmacy and pharmacist for negligence in repackaging a drug for injections constituted “related claims” under the insurance policy(ies) at issue. Amer. Cas. Co. of Reading, Pa. v. Belcher, No. 17-10848, 2017 WL 4276057 (11th Cir. Sept. 27, 2017).
In this case, a pharmacy and pharmacist allegedly repackaged drugs from larger vials into single dose syringes for injections into eyes of patients, but did not take the necessary steps to prevent contamination. The syringes allegedly became contaminated, and eleven patients that were injected with the drugs suffered severe vision loss and/or blindness. Both the pharmacist and pharmacy tendered the eleven claims to their professional liability carrier- which were separate errors and omissions policies issued by the same insurer, each policy with a $1 million per claim and $3 million aggregate limit of liability.
The insurers defended the claims presented against the pharmacy and pharmacist subject to a reservation of rights and asserted that the claims were “related claims,” subject to the $1 million per claim limit. The trial court held that the claims were logically connected and thus “related claims.”
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the trial court, holding that the test to determine whether the claims were related was whether they were logically or causally connected by any common fact or circumstance. In this case, the Court found that the claims were logically connected because a single technician supervised by the same pharmacist prepared each syringe using the same process at the same location, violating the same health and safety regulations.
If you would like to know more about this decision or other insurance coverage matters, please contact Joyce Mocek at [email protected]