A state appeals court ruled Wednesday to deny a final appeal claiming a New York-based pharmaceutical supplier is partially liable for severe injuries a then-17-year-old Saddle River boy suffered when he overdosed on stolen prescription drugs at a party in 2007.
According to court documents, then 17-year-old Scott Simon threw a party at the Saddle River house his father purchased. It was there, on Sept. 22, 2007, Simon voluntarily ingested stolen Xanax pills provided by friend Marc Malajian, who worked as a part-time clerk at Harding Pharmacy in Ridgewood. The drugs were supplied to Harding by Whitestone, NY company Kinray Inc.
Malajian, according to court documents, gave him the pills despite observing Simon seemed "messed up" and knowing his friend had a "reputation for getting 'a little crazy [with drugs] at times.'"
The rowdy party was shut down by the adult Simon's father hired as a supervisor to his teenage son, and moved to another home, that of Donny Nuckel.
At Nuckel's home, Simon fell into a coma and the party-goers failed to immediately call the ambulance. Simon now suffers from severe nerve damage and has been declared "incompetent."
Harding Pharamacy – which court documents say was found to have committed 92 regulatory violations in a DEA audit, including not locking a cabinet containing drugs – hired Malajian despite knowing he had drug abuse issues, according to the Wednesday ruling.
According to court documents, the DEA told co-owner Myron Lesh that Malajian was suspected of stealing in early 2007, but he maintained employment.
Simon sued Harding Pharmacy, the family who hosted the party, as well as various guests of the party. He collected a sum of $4.1 million in settlements, including $1.9 million from Harding Pharmacy.
But a Superior Court justice found the Simon family's suit against drug maker Kinray was without merit. The plaintiffs argued Kinray should have ensured Harding maintained better safeguards.
The court, upholding a previous ruling, said Kinray closely monitoring the processes and policies of all 2,000 pharmacies it distributes drugs to would be "burdensome" and unrealistic.
The wholesaler had a correct expectation pharmacies – already heavily regulated – would be responsible with the drugs it held, the appellate court ruled.
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