Maryland Jury Awards $20.3 Million Against Drugstore Giant Rite Aid in False Imprisonment, Assault & Battery Case

Talk of the Town Case Update

ELLICOTT CITY, MD—A Maryland jury sent a message loud and clear to drugstore behemoth Rite Aid when it handed down a verdict of more than $20 million in the case of Ebony Bates, an African American woman who was injured and held against her will by a Rite Aid pharmacist while acting in his employee capacity.

The verdict includes two punitive awards against Rite Aid for $10 million each in response to the overwhelming evidence provided at trial against pharmacist Richmond Muraguri, proving battery and false imprisonment of Bates, who had been attempting to fill a prescription for her wife. Muraguri is being held personally liable for $5,000 of each of the punitive awards, with the rest to come from Rite Aid.

In 2017, Bates, a Prince George’s County, MD, resident, had dropped off a prescription for her wife at a local Rite Aid where Muraguri was employed as a pharmacist. The next morning when she arrived to pick up the prescription, using the drive-through lane, she was told it couldn’t be filled as written. No reason was given. The pharmacist told her, “If you’re not going to work with me, I won’t work with you,” and he then gave her back the written prescription and threatened to call the police.

Bates then entered the Rite Aid store to get the name of the pharmacist. Unable to gain the pharmacist’s cooperation, Bates then attempted to snap a photo of Muraguri and his name tag. Muraguri left the secured area behind the counter and charged at Bates, grabbing her and attempting to snatch the phone from her hand, causing an almost complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) of her right thumb. When Muraguri released Bates, he ordered the Rite Aid staff to lock the doors and not let Bates leave until the police arrived.

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