Monday, September 23, 2013

Settlement on Sexual Assault of Patient By Nurse in Hospital

The Las Vegas Review Journal recently reported that a claim by a patient of being raped by a nurse while in a hospital which gave rise to a federal court lawsuit has been settled.  (See Story: HERE).  The terms of settlement were confidential, which is fairly standard in these cases.

If this case were heard in California, there would be several obstacles to the claim.  The greatest hurdle would be the requirement to show prior notice of a propensity of the rapist to commit such an act on the part of the hospital which employed the sexual perpetrator due to a California Supreme Court decision entitled, Lisa M. v. Henry Mayo Hospital (1995) 12 Cal.4th 291.  In that case, a patient was sexually assaulted by an orderly in a hospital under the pretense of his performing an "ultrasound examination."  The Court held that, in order for the hospital to be liable for the criminal acts of an employee, they must have some prior indication that the employee was unfit for his or her duties.

This burden of showing notice is definitely not, insurmountable, though.  Our office has had great success recently in representing patients who have been victimized by hospital and medial personnel while undergoing a hospitalization.  This requires extensive and prompt investigation into the background of the individual, the hiring process for that medical provider (e.g. background checks, criminal records requests, etc.) as well as taking depositions and conducting other discovery into the facts and circumstances surrounding the assault and prior conduct of the assailant and the hospital staff (including human resources executives).

If you or someone you know has been the victim of a sexual assault while in a hospital, nursing home, extended care facility, mental health facility or similar locale, please call our office for a free consultation.  We pride ourselves on being the California attorneys that represent victims of sexual assault and abuse in filing civil claims for money damages.