Wingfield v. Peoples Drug Store, Inc., No. 11243.

Docket NºNo. 11243.
Citation379 A.2d 685
Case DateOctober 20, 1977
CourtCourt of Appeals of Columbia District

Page 685

379 A.2d 685
Gladys WINGFIELD, Appellant,
v.
PEOPLES DRUG STORE, INC., Appellee.
No. 11243.
District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
Argued June 29, 1977.
Decided October 20, 1977.
Rehearing and Rehearing en Banc Denied January 23, 1978.

Edward L. Genn, Washington, D. C., for appellant.

Page 686

John Jude O'Donnell, Washington, D. C., for appellee.

Before KERN, GALLAGHER and MACK, Associate Judges.

KERN, Associate Judge:


This appeal presents for our determination the propriety of certain rulings by the trial court during the trial of a negligence action which ultimately resulted in a jury verdict for the plaintiff, Gladys Wingfield, who is the appellant in this court.

The record reflects that in February 1972, appellant requested appellee drugstore to refill a prescription for Valium, a medicine she was taking under her physician's direction to "reduce [her epileptic] seizure potential" (Record at 53). A short time after taking the pills with which appellee had refilled her prescription, appellant noticed changes in her physical and mental state, including loss of appetite, lethargy, depression, weight loss, muscle twitching, and frequent urination. Appellant later testified that these changes had made her "fearful" but that she did not associate them with her medication. She was unable to sleep and her mental state was very disturbed during the time she was taking what turned out to be the wrong medication. She stated:

I was delirious. I was seeing things, like caskets and what have you. My thoughts were running away with me. And, I really felt like I was going to die. (Record at 74.)

Her anxiety increased to the point where she was taking more than her normal dose of the two supposed "Valium" tablets every day.

Appellant's symptoms continued for a week until February 23, when she called the drugstore and determined that the drug she had been taking was not Valium. The next day she visited her doctor who confirmed that the drug was not Valium (Record at 234). Appellant complained to him of nervousness and depression, as well as backache, weight loss and muscle cramps. Dr. Biben administered tests and found that her uric acid levels were abnormally high, her electrolytes out of balance and she had lost some eight pounds (Record at 235). Dr. Biben also changed appellant's Valium intake from two to four tablets per day to combat her increased anxiety. Appellant continued to take the increased dosage for "months" afterward (Record at 43).

Appellant was examined by Dr. Biben on March 2, 1972 and again on April 4, 1972. The doctor reported that the test results were normal; she had regained all her weight; and he believed that the ingestion of the wrong medication "would have no permanent or lasting effect" on the appellant (Record at 272). During this last visit, appellant still complained of nervousness.

In June 1972, appellant went to North Carolina to stay with her sister. Appellant stated that she left the D.C. area because:

I was sleeping so much . . . I didn't feel up to taking care of the children. My condition, at this time, I felt, was just helpless. . . . (Record at 44.)

Appellant testified that she suffered from fears during her stay in North Carolina that she had not suffered prior to her ingestion of the wrong medication in February 1972, particularly:

. . . the fear that I would not be able to be gainfully employed again; the fear that what we had accomplished . . . in the form of a home, . . was going to be lost because of the loss of my salary. And, the fear that I wasn't going to get well. (Record at 52.)

In February 1973, twelve months after the wrong medication incident, appellant returned to her home in Washington and visited Dr. Biben. He stated that her physical problems had ended, but she had "emotional" problems and he referred her to a psychiatrist. (Record at 270, Supp. Record II at 263.) Appellant continued to take Valium.

Appellant was in a serious automobile accident on May 8, 1973. Following the accident, appellant did not obtain full-time employment again until February 1974, when she became a nursing assistant at

Page 687

Walter Reed Hospital (Record at 64). She was still working at Walter Reed and had received a promotion at the time of trial in 1976.

Appellant instituted action against appellee in the trial court for a negligent and wrongful filling of her prescription. She alleged suffering primarily emotional and mental injury as a result of taking the wrong medication, although she also included allegations of temporary physical injury in her claim.1

Two trials have been held in which the juries have returned verdicts in favor of appellant. In December 1975, the first jury found in Mrs. Wingfield's favor for $250,000, but the trial court granted a new trial on the ground that the verdict was excessive. In May 1976, a new trial was held and the jury returned a verdict of $6,500 in her favor. On this occasion, appellant moved for a new trial which the court denied. Appellant has filed a timely appeal in this court claiming that the following rulings by the trial court constitute error: (1) the grant of a new trial in December 1975 on the ground that the verdict was excessive; (2) the court's instructions to the jury on contributory negligence; (3) the court's refusal to allow appellant to testify concerning her mental state following the May 1973 automobile accident which occurred 15 months after she had...

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50 practice notes
  • Anderson By and Through Anderson/Couvillon v. Nebraska Dept. of Social Services, No. S-94-547
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • October 20, 1995
    ...299 S.C. 394, 385 S.E.2d 205 (S.C.App.1989); Leonard v. Parrish, 420 N.W.2d 629 (Minn.App.1988); Wingfield v. Peoples Drug Store, Inc., 379 A.2d 685 (D.C.App.1977); Huff v. Tracy, supra; Underwood v. Atlanta & West Point R. Co., 105 Ga.App. 340, 124 S.E.2d 758 [248 Neb. 663] 1962), reversed......
  • Daka, Inc. v. Breiner, No. 95-CV-441.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • April 30, 1998
    ...Security Corp. v. McQueen, 497 A.2d 1076, 1081 (D.C.1985); Vassiliades, supra, 492 A.2d at 594; Wingfield v. Peoples Drug Store, Inc., 379 A.2d 685, 687 (D.C.1977) (citing Williams). In such a case, however, the verdict must be "so inordinately large as obviously to exceed the maximum limit......
  • Hsieh v. Consolidated Engineering Services, Inc., Civil Action No. 06-1218 (CKK).
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Columbia
    • August 7, 2008
    ...operates as a complete bar to recovery, Andrews v. Wilkins, 934 F.2d 1267, 1272 (D.C.Cir.1992) (citing Wingfield v. Peoples Drug Store, 379 A.2d 685, 687 (D.C.1977)). "Contributory negligence is virtually always a question of fact for the jury." Id. (citing Jeffries v. Potomac Dev. Corp., 8......
  • Sandoe v. Lefta Associates, No. 86-1506.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • December 5, 1988
    ...reasonable care under the circumstances of this case. Therefore, the instruction was deficient. Wingfield v. Peoples Drug Stores, Inc., 379 A.2d 685, 688-89 (D.C. 1977); Reese v. Wells, 73 A.2d 899, 902 (D.C. 1950). That the Sandoes were permitted to argue to the jury that the exercise of r......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
50 cases
  • Anderson By and Through Anderson/Couvillon v. Nebraska Dept. of Social Services, No. S-94-547
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • October 20, 1995
    ...299 S.C. 394, 385 S.E.2d 205 (S.C.App.1989); Leonard v. Parrish, 420 N.W.2d 629 (Minn.App.1988); Wingfield v. Peoples Drug Store, Inc., 379 A.2d 685 (D.C.App.1977); Huff v. Tracy, supra; Underwood v. Atlanta & West Point R. Co., 105 Ga.App. 340, 124 S.E.2d 758 [248 Neb. 663] 1962), reversed......
  • Daka, Inc. v. Breiner, No. 95-CV-441.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • April 30, 1998
    ...Security Corp. v. McQueen, 497 A.2d 1076, 1081 (D.C.1985); Vassiliades, supra, 492 A.2d at 594; Wingfield v. Peoples Drug Store, Inc., 379 A.2d 685, 687 (D.C.1977) (citing Williams). In such a case, however, the verdict must be "so inordinately large as obviously to exceed the maximum limit......
  • Hsieh v. Consolidated Engineering Services, Inc., Civil Action No. 06-1218 (CKK).
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Columbia
    • August 7, 2008
    ...operates as a complete bar to recovery, Andrews v. Wilkins, 934 F.2d 1267, 1272 (D.C.Cir.1992) (citing Wingfield v. Peoples Drug Store, 379 A.2d 685, 687 (D.C.1977)). "Contributory negligence is virtually always a question of fact for the jury." Id. (citing Jeffries v. Potomac Dev. Corp., 8......
  • Sandoe v. Lefta Associates, No. 86-1506.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • December 5, 1988
    ...reasonable care under the circumstances of this case. Therefore, the instruction was deficient. Wingfield v. Peoples Drug Stores, Inc., 379 A.2d 685, 688-89 (D.C. 1977); Reese v. Wells, 73 A.2d 899, 902 (D.C. 1950). That the Sandoes were permitted to argue to the jury that the exercise of r......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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