Ridgewood drug store to pay nearly half; underscores need for legal reform

TRENTON, N.J. – Marcus Rayner, executive director of the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance, released the following statement regarding a $4.1 million settlement awarded to a 21-year-old who overdosed on Xanax stolen from a local pharmacy:

“In this case, the pharmacy was the victim – not the plaintiff, who made a decision to ingest stolen drugs.  Yet it is the pharmacy that is being denied justice by today’s legal system and the drug user who is benefiting from it. 

“The pressure to settle cases – even ones as ridiculous as this – is high, particularly for small businesses like Harding Pharmacy.  This isn’t CVS or Walgreens, with a legal department to handle such matters.  This is a neighborhood business, which settled a case of questionable merit presumably because the cost of justice is simply too high and out-of-reach. 

“In New Jersey a drunk driver can already sue a bar tender if he injures himself while driving under the influence.  Apparently pharmacies which have drugs stolen from them can be financially liable for thieves’ overdoses.  It is a classic example of abusing the system in the hopes of winning a jackpot judgment at everyone else’s expense. 

“This case underscores just how much our tort system has become out-of-step with common sense and fairness.  Instead of investing in Ridgewood’s local economy, $1.9 million will be going into the pocket of a man who made poor and illegal choices. 

Scott Simon voluntarily ingested Xanax stolen by a friend who used to work for the pharmacy nearly four years ago.   His cohorts did not seek immediate medical attention after he went into a coma.  Harding Pharmacy will pay $1.9 million.  Other parties will pay the remaining amount.