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James Ehl and Vincent Pharmacy, Inc. v. DiChiara, 2007 Ala. LEXIS 277 (Ala. 2007)

Margaret Dickson was a resident at Hildebrand Hidden Acres, a nursing home, when Vincent Pharmacy and its pharmacist on duty, James Ehl, “mis-filled” a medication prescribed for her. As a result, Dickson became hyperglycemic and had to be hospitalized. One of her daughters, Barbara Lacey, filed a complaint on Dickson’s behalf, alleging negligence and wantonness. The complaint was styled “Barbara Lacey, as personal representative of Margaret Dickson.” She was not, however, a personal representative because Dickson was not deceased and Lacey did not hold a valid power of attorney; she did not know her power of attorney had been revoked. The Complaint was amended several times including one styled “Barbara Lacey, as administrator of the Estate of Margaret Dickson.” On August 8, 2005, Lacey filed a motion for leave to amend, seeking to substitute as plaintiff “Margaret Dickson, by and through her attorney-in-fact, Mary DiChiara,” in place of “Barbara Lacey, as personal representative of Margaret Dickson.” The Defendants objected. Their argument was that Lacey never had power to initiate the lawsuit in the first instance and, thus, had no power to amend the complaint to name DiChiara.DiChiara argued the substitution should be allowed because Lacey did not know her power of attorney had been revoked. On appeal, the court found that standing goes to the jurisdiction of the court and Lacey had no standing to bring an action on Dickson’s behalf. Accordingly, the court never acquired jurisdiction over Dickson’s claims and DiChiara could not be substituted for Lacey after the statute of limitations had run.

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