Len Kulisek of Schaumburg was 77 when he had his prescription for gout filled at the Walgreens on Golf Road in Schaumburg in 2001. But what he got was a medicine for diabetes.

The medicine lowered his blood sugar, knocking him unconscious and sending him to the hospital.

Kulisek then had to start dialysis, which he continued for the next 22 months until he finally made the decision to quit, letting himself die.

Walgreens’ attorney, Tom Andrews, had argued that medical records showed Kulisek already had failing kidneys when he got the wrong medicine, so Walgreens was not responsible.

But the jury agreed with Kulisek’s lawyer, David Axelrod, and the jury instructions, which said that if they found the medicine was even just a partial cause of Kulisek’s downward health spiral, but not the only cause, they had to find for Kulisek on negligence.

But the largest part of the award was punitive damages of $25 million, which the jury awarded because it ruled Walgreens exhibited “utter indifference” to its customers safety by not accurately tracking its drug stock. Had the company done so, it could have discovered the pharmacist’s addiction and removed him before he harmed anyone, Axelrod argued.

Walgreens’ spokesman Michael Polzin said the company does not believe the pharmacist’s taking of drugs had anything to do with the prescription mistake and it will be appealing the decision.


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