DALLAS, TEXAS – Anne Lenhart never thought filling a prescription at CVS Pharmacy in Dallas could land her in jail.
The avid yoga practicer raised more $20,000 for Off the Mat, Into the World Global Seva Challenge. OTM is an organization that was founded by Seane Corn, Hali Kouri, and Suzanne Sterling as a way to take the ideas of yoga and translate them into action.
This year OTM was heading to Haiti for a service mission in which they bought and installed lights, worked at Haiti’s tent cities and various other projects.
On their off time, Lenhart and her group headed the Haitian city of Jacmel, a mountainous region with waterfalls and beautiful natural pools.
That’s where the trouble began. Lenhart had waded in the water beneath the waterfall, then climbed up some 30 feet onto a cliff overlooking the water.
“I decided I was ready to come down off the waterfall and it was then that I slipped and I hit an outcropping about 10 feet down and then from there fall another 20 feet into the water,” Lenhart said. The water saved her life but she shattered her kneecap on the way down.
With the help of several men, Lenhart climbed out of the area and after a 3 1/2 hour trip to the nearest hospital in Port-Au-Prince, she underwent reconstructive surgery with no general anesthesia.
A week later she was flown back to the U.S., still in deep pain, and admitted into Baylor Medical Center in Dallas.
“They gave me a pretty high, heavy duty narcotic, Norco, as a painkiller going forward and I had used that up. It had been a month and I had called for my refill,” Lenhart said.
The pharmacy called Lenhart to ask her exactly what time she would be in pick up her prescription. She thought it was odd, but told the pharmacy what time she would be there.
Still on crutches and unable to drive, a friend of Lenhart’s, drove her to a CVS Pharmacy in Oak Cliff.
She wasn’t able to pick up her prescription because a police officer arrived to pick her up.
“He was like ‘we need to go outside,’” she said. “I was on crutches and I had a permanent IV line in my arm. I had a big leg brace. I asked him if it was necessary and he said yes and he rather policingly escorted me out the front door and into the back of a waiting patrol car.”
Lenhart was so stunned, she didn’t think to ask the officer questions. The officer explained to her what was going on.
“He said, ‘Well we believe that you have forged your pain pill prescription and we are calling your doctor now. But I’ve worked with this pharmacist a number of times and he’s never made a mistake,” Lenhart said.
The officer then took her the Dallas County jail, where she remained overnight. After she was released on bond, she was charged with obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, a felony.
“I couldn’t go back to work until HR had received the paperwork that this was a mistake from my attorney,” she said.
Dallas police later dropped the charges after speaking with Lenhart’s doctor. The Dallas Police Department declined to talk to CBS11 about Lenhart’s arrest.
Now she is suing CVS Pharmacy for False Imprisonment, Defamation and more. Her attorney, Jeff Benton, said her arrest could have been prevented had proper procedures been followed.
“Every doctor that prescribes a narcotic had a DEA number that’s unique to them and if that is cross referenced and the correct doctor is contacted then I don’t imagine that this type of thing would happen,” Benton said. “We suspect the wrong doctor was contacted because they didn’t cross reference the DEA number.”
Everyday pharmacies fill millions of prescriptions for controlled substances. Those drugs are monitored by the DEA.
Lenhart’s doctor confirmed in an affidavit that he wrote the prescription for her and that he never received a call from CVS asking to confirm the prescription. Benton thinks the pharmacy may have called the wrong physician.
A representative from CVS Pharmacy said, “We are investigating how this unfortunate incident occurred and we are working to resolve the matter with Ms. Lenhart and her attorney. As this involves pending litigation, we are unable to provide additional comments at this time.”
“I would love to think that they would actually write me a letter that says ‘I am sorry that this happened to you,’” Lenhart said.
But even more than an apology, Lenhart wants to make sure that this never happens to another patient in pain.
“I don’t want somebody else. I don’t want somebody who I love to go there and get arrested,” she said.