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Court Nixes Defamation Case Against Pharmacy

(CN) - A pharmacy is not liable for defamation after mistakenly causing a customer to be arrested for prescription fraud, the Iowa Court of Appeals ruled.

Michelle Clay sued Hy-Vee Inc. after the pharmacy wrote the wrong name for Clay's physician. When the doctor denied filling the prescription, Hy-Vee notified the police, and Clay was arrested.

The trial court ruled in favor of Clay, stating that Hy-Vee abused the privilege of the qualified immunity that would usually protect it in such a case.

Judge Mahan reversed the decision.

"Our supreme court has stated that a failure to investigate, standing alone, ordinarily will not establish a knowing or reckless disregard for the truth," Mahan ruled. "Here, Hy-Vee did investigate its statement, but it did so negligently.

"Nonetheless," the judge added, "that is not evidence that its statement to law enforcement was made with a high degree of awareness of possible falsity."

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