RICHMOND, Va. (CN) - A former CVS pharmacist claims in court that she was wrongly fired based on false allegations that she was stealing drugs from work.
In a complaint filed in the Richmond City Circuit Court, Angela Tuck says she had been a pharmacist for 25 years with not a single blemish on her record, when a bottle of the generic painkiller hydromorphone went missing from the Colonial Heights, Va. pharmacy at which she worked.
Controlled substances such as hydromorphone are checked in upon receipt and stored in pharmaceutical safes before dispensing, Tuck says.
When a pharmacy supervisor reported the pills missing nearly two weeks after their Feb. 11, 2015 delivery, CVS Regional Diversion Manager Randy Hall was assigned to the investigate.
According to the complaint, Hall reviewed store surveillance tapes, and claimed he saw Tuck pocket the bottle of pills.
"In reality, the video footage showed no such thing," the complaint says. "What it did show was Ms. Tuck accessing the pharmacy safes (both safes, not only the safe in which the hydromorphone was stored), writing things down on a piece of paper on the counter, and taking her pen in and out of her pocket.
Tuck says her store manager disagreed with Hall's assessment.
"Hall became agitated when the Pharmacy Manager disagreed with his assertions that Ms. Tuck had removed a bottle of hydromorphone from the safe and placed it in her pocket
... insisting that Ms. Tuck had stolen the drugs, despite the complete lack of evidence of same."
Tuck says Hall later cornered her in a store office and blocked her leaving in an attempt to intimidate her into a false confession.
Tuck says despite repeated her denial of having stolen any drugs, Hall continued to interrogate her.
"We don't know the why, just the how, but we know that you took a bottle of hydromorphone - we have a tape of you doing it," Hall said, according to the complaint.
When Tuck asked to see the tape, Hall refused, and threatened "if you see that tape, you'll be in court in front of a judge," the complaint says.
At Hall's behest, law enforcement authorities marched a humiliated Tuck through the store in handcuffs and charged her with felony possession of a controlled substance as well as misdemeanor theft. Tuck claims she fired from CVS the very next day.
Tuck says the charges were later dismissed.
Despite this, she says, Hall continued to tell her former coworkers and customers that she had been fired for stealing drugs.
Following Tuck's arrest, CVS Drug Loss Prevention Coordinator Sarah Rudis, also party to the suit, sent a letter reporting the incident to the Virginia Board of Pharmacy.
"This loss was due to employee pilferage by the pharmacist, Angela Tuck, which resulted in their termination," the letter says, according to the complaint.
Tuck says the letter prevented her from finding a new job as a pharmacist.
"Finally, in or about early December, 2015, Ms. Tuck received notice from the Board of Pharmacy that 'the evidence presented is insufficient to support a finding of a violation of the statutes or regulations that govern the practice of pharmacy in Virginia,'" the complaint says.
Tuck seeks $3 million in damages on claims of defamation, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
She is represented by Rebecca Royals and Zev Antell of Butler Royals PLC in Richmond. Representatives of CVS Pharmacies did not respond to a request for comment from Courthouse News.