Everyone makes mistakes, even those whose sworn mission is to protect and serve or to do no harm. Two settlements were announced this week that demonstrate exactly that. In Brooklyn, New York, a woman whose doctors’ negligence resulted in the amputation of her arms and legs was awarded $17.1 million. In Tallahassee, Florida, the negligence of the police concerning a woman who was murdered during a botched drug sting operation led to a $2.4 million settlement for her family. In both these cases, the professionals in charge, the ones whose judgement is awarded a certain amount of trust, made bad decisions that led to unfortunate consequences. Everyone makes mistakes, but the law in general isn’t there to prevent that. Rather, the law and the court system are intended to pursue justice among an otherwise ambivalent world. And so, the silver lining: in Florida, a new regulation, called “Rachel’s Law” after the woman in question, was enacted to train policemen better and set up new guidelines in the use of criminal informants.
Propofol’s medicine vials were too large, leading doctors to dangerously reuse them on multiple patients.
The pharmaceutical company Teva has set aside $285 million to settle lawsuits related to their anesthetic Propofol and an outbreak of Hepatitis C in Nevada. As reported by Bloomberg, litigants alleged that the company purposefully sold the drug in vials large enough to be reused and improperly labeled the containers, leading doctors to use drugs from the same vial on multiple patients. This practice leaves patients vulnerable to infection and led to the spread of a deadly virus to colonoscopy patients in Nevada, the litigants claimed. Hepatitis C is a viral liver infection and can be deadly if left untreated. More than 80 lawsuits have been brought against Teva, which hopes to settle with the majority of them.
We are reminded that modern pharmaceutical medicine is not guaranteed to be safe. The drugs we put in our bodies are not perfect and are, as anything, always vulnerable to human error as in this case. An understandable lack of foresight led to the distribution of too-large vials, which led to reuse, which led to a transmittal of disease. Though companies usually work to pull imperfect drugs from the public, as evidenced by the seemingly-frequent recall of children’s Tylenol, some things will always slip through the cracks. The best practice when dealing with chemicals and your body is to find a trustworthy doctor, take your time, and, of course, conduct your own research.
According to the New Haven Register, the family of David Servin, a teenager killed in an accident with a police cruiser, have reached a settlement with the city of Milford, Connecticut. The family will receive $2.5 million to drop the wrongful death civil suit brought against the policeman at the helm of the vehicle, Jason Anderson. Servin and a friend, Ashlie Krakoski, both 19 years old, were returning home from a party when they were struck by a police car travelling 94 miles per hour. The now-former policeman was not responding to a call at the time of the accident. Mr. Anderson still faces two criminal charges of second-degree manslaughter.
Although the two teenagers had been drinking that night and autopsies revealed they were above the legal limit to drive, the settlement shows that a civil trial may have been damaging to the city. It’s possible that the policeman would have been found culpable for the deaths regardless of the teenagers’ sobriety. Be careful when on the road, because you never know what’s around the corner.