A Maryland jury has delivered a verdict against Rite Aid for more than $20 million due to injuries sustained by a young Black woman who was held against her will by a Rite Aid pharmacist while acting in his employee capacity.
The verdict includes punitive damages against Rite Aid for $20 million with the pharmacist personally liable for $10,000. Ebony Bates, while attempting to fill a prescription for her wife, was assaulted by Rite Aid pharmacist Richmond Muraguri, suffering an almost complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament of her right thumb. Muraguri then directed store employees to lock the doors to keep Bates from exiting the store.
Maryland attorney Lorraine Lawrence-Whittaker, lead counsel for Bates, said, “Here is a case where a customer was treated horrendously by an employee of a national company.”
“It is profoundly reaffirming that this jury sent a clear message that our community will not tolerate someone like Ebony being attacked or locked in a store without significant consequence,” said Edward “Bud” Brown, co-counsel for Bates. “I just want to emphasize the faith and courage it took for Ms. Bates and her family not only to bring this action, but to allow us to fight it to conclusion.”
The significance of the charges against a company with more than 2,000 locations across the country is staggering, added co-counsel Ingmar Goldson, “I’m proud of the results. I hope the verdict does what the jury intended it to do and will deter similar corporate misconduct.”
Lawrence-Whittaker sees local and national meaning in the outcome. “This jury was invested in justice,” she said. “My experience with Prince George’s County juries is that they look past superficial differences to get to the core of a controversy. This jury certainly lived up to those standards.”
Photo caption: (L–R) Lorraine Lawrence-Whittaker, Ebony Bates, Zunaira Khalid, Mr. & Mrs. Bates, Ingmar Goldson.