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Deep pocket files: Scott Simon and Harding Pharmacy

Teenager Donny Nuckel's parents were away for the weekend, and he decided to hold an unsupervised party for his Saddle River, New Jersey, friends. It wasn't at the level of Project X, but one of those party guests was a former employee of Harding Pharmacy: instead of chips, he brought along some Xanax he stole from his employer, which he passed along to another guest, then-17-year-old Scott Simon, who promptly overdosed and went into a coma. The other guests didn't bother to call an ambulance right away, and Simon suffered permanent nerve damage, which his lawyers allege would not have been permanent if he had been rushed to the hospital sooner.

So: to be straight, Simon took and overdosed on illegal drugs, given to him by someone who stole them and then failed to help him. Those are the two most culpable people, right?

Not in the New Jersey justice system, which rewards seeking out peripherally involved deep pockets and threatening them with the risk of jackpot justice. The Nuckel home is, according to Zillow, a 7000-square-foot affair worth over $2 million, so the Nuckels were sued, Donny for throwing the party, mom Linda for letting the party happen (presumably she was supposed to hire a babysitter or chain Donny up in a kennel). But Simon didn't stop there: he sued the other party guests; he sued Harding Pharmacy for letting the drugs be stolen; I'm told by a reporter that he even sued the maker of Xanax. (The last, again according to the reporter, has been dismissed, with the case on appeal.)

The others have settled. Simon gets $4.1 million, the lion's share from the deep pockets who at best have tertiary responsibility: $1.9 million from victim Harding Pharmacy, who surely didn't want its former employees to be stealing drugs, and $1.2 million from the Nuckels. I'm quoted in the FoxNews.com coverage, which emphasizes the unrelated Whitney Houston investigation into her pharmacies for hit-trolling reasons. More at NorthJersey.com.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.