Patient’s Lawsuit Against Carrier Who Delivered Medication Two Weeks Late Was Preempted by Federal Law, According to South Carolina Court

When someone is hurt by the negligence act(s) of a business, government, or individual, the injured person may be able to receive compensation for his or her injuries through a personal injury lawsuit. In most such cases, the plaintiff need only prove that the defendant owned him or her a duty of care and that the breach of that duty was the proximate cause of the damages for which he or seeks compensation. In some situations, however, this general rule may be complicated by other factors including the possibility that the usual remedy is preempted under federal law. A recent South Carolina personal injury lawsuit explained the concept further.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case originating in the Circuit Court for Orangeburg County, the plaintiff was a man who was prescribed a thyroid medication by doctors at the Veterans Administration. On several past occasions, the defendant carrier had delivered the plaintiff’s prescriptions to his residence without incident. In April 2013, however, the plaintiff was deprived of his medication for almost two weeks, purportedly due to an issue with the address indicated on the package (even though previous medication had been sent to the same location without any problems).

As a result of not having his medication, the plaintiff went into a “thyroid storm,” in which he suffered seizures, congestive heart failure, and extremely high blood pressure. The plaintiff’s medical condition culminated in him having to be hospitalized, and eventually, surgical intervention was required. The plaintiff, joined in the suit by his wife (who asserted a loss of consortium claim), sought legal redress for the defendant’s negligence and negligent entrustment. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s state law claims on the basis that they were preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (FAAAA), 49 U.S.C.A. ยง 14501(c)(1), a federal law that prohibits states from enacting laws related to the service of motor carriers. The plaintiffs appealed.

Decision of the Court

The State of South Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s ruling. The court began by acknowledging that the issue of whether a state law was preempted by a federal statute was a question of law. As such, it was within the province of the appellate court to make its own decision on the matter without deferring to the circuit court.

Having reviewed the issues anew on appeal, the reviewing tribunal opined that the trial court had been correct in finding that the plaintiffs’ claims were preempted by the Act. Although the plaintiffs argued that their particular claims fell within the “household goods” exception of the Act, the court rejected this argument, holding that the defendant was not a household goods motor carrier and that, accordingly, its late delivery of the plaintiff’s medication did not bring the suit within the purview of the household goods exemption to the general preemption of the Act.

Call a Lawyer About Your Case Today

The experienced personal injury legal team at the Patrick E. Knie Law Offices in Spartanburg and Greenville handle a wide variety of cases, including those arising from car and truck wrecks, work-related accidents, medical malpractice, and defective products. To schedule a free consultation, please call us at 864-582-5118 or fill out the contact section on this website. We look forward to serving your family’s legal needs, but we ask that you call as soon as possible so that we will be able to allot the required time and resources necessary to present your case in its best light.

Posted in:
Published on:

Comments are closed.

Contact Information