Defense offers $150,000 in hospice sexual assault case. Defense verdict. Riverside County.
Male hospice patient, an alcoholic, claims he was raped by hospice aide in a nursing facility. CCP offer of $150,000 total by two defendant corporations.
- Case Name: Doe v. Odyssey Healthcare GP LLC dba Odyssey Hospice; John Roe hospice aide, and Indio Healthcare & Wellness Center LLC
- Court and Case Number: Riverside Superior / PSC 1300497
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, May 20, 2014
- Date Action was Filed: Monday, August 19, 2013
- Type of Action: Emotional Distress, Medical Malpractice, Sexual Abuse
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. John G. Evans
- Plaintiffs: John Doe, 55, hospice patient
- Defendants: Odyssey Healthcare GP LLC dba Odyssey HospiceJohn Roe, hospice aideIndio Healthcare & Wellness Center
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: Defense verdict.
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 17 days.
- Jury Deliberation Time: 1 1/4 hours.
- Jury Polls: 12 - 0
- Attorney for the Plaintiff: Charles T Mathews & Associates by Charles Mathews, Arcadia.
- Attorney for the Defendant: Kramer, Deboer & Keane by Jeffrey G. Keane, Indian Wells. (For defendant Hospice Aide)Schuler & Brown by Michael D. Brown, Van Nuys. (For defendant Odyssey Healthcare GP LLC, dba Odyssey Hospice)Brandon & Associates by Mark L. Brandon, San Diego. (For defendant Indio Healthcare & Wellness Center dba Deserts Springs Healthcare & Wellness Center)
- Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
Sandra Higelin, R.N., Palm Springs.
- Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
William Wirshing, M.D., psychiatrist, Los Angeles.
Cari Carusso, R.N., Simi Valley.
Nancy Henry, R.N., Torrance.
Facts and Background
- Facts and Background:
On July 30, 2013, plaintiff, a 55-year-old recovering alcoholic and hospice patient with end-stage liver disease, claimed to have been raped while being showered by defendant hospice aide. The corporate defendants waited until the following day before sending the plaintiff to the emergency room for a sexual assault examination.
- Plaintiff's Contentions:
That the employed aide of the hospice defendant brutally raped plaintiff. The rape involved anal penetration with forced oral copulation and major trauma to plaintiff's penis. Thereafter, that the management of both corporate defendants conspired to conduct sham investigations by delayed reporting and falsified reports to mandated governmental agencies about the true facts and falsely portrayed the plaintiff as being a violent, confused individual who was not credible. That this was done to cover up the rape allegations to preserve their operating licenses and ability to make profits at the expense of their patients.
That in furtherance of the conspiracy and to make sure the plaintiff lacked credibility, defendant healthcare providers overmedicated plaintiff before presenting him for interviews by the police and emergency room personnel. Further, that the emergency room report and dozens of color photographs taken during that examination provide clear and convincing proof of a violent sexual battery.
Punitive damages were sought against the skilled nursing facility by way of the claim for defendant adult abuse and against the hospice company for ratifying the patient rape by their failure to investigate the allegation or discipline their employee.
- Defendant's Contentions:
That no sexual assault or battery took place, the allegation being nothing more than a fantasy story. Defendant hospice aide remained constant in his denial of any wrongful conduct.
That plaintiff has difficulty in distinguishing fantasy from reality as a result of his liver disease and brain damage from falling while drunk. The rape allegation was reported to the police after the patient was interviewed to confirm the allegation. As the patient was stable without apparent injury, the emergency room examination was deferred until the police arrived for their interview. Thereafter, plaintiff was transported to the emergency room for a comprehensive evaluation.
The corporate defendants denied there was any unreasonable delay in reporting the incident to governmental agencies and contend that their investigation was thorough but limited by police involvement. Ultimately, the defendants’ investigations and those of the involved governmental agencies (Indio Police Department, Adult Protective Services, State of California Ombudsman) all closed their files with no action.
Further, that the emergency room report and photographs depict no traumatic injuries and did not confirm the alleged sexual assault. What was found and photographed reflected nothing other than the plaintiff’s preexisting medical conditions, not traumatic injuries.
The defendant hospice company conducted a thorough investigation under the circumstances and relied upon the broad-based investigation results of the involved governmental agencies that never substantiated any wrongful conduct on the part of their employee whom they concluded to have been wrongfully accused. They never ratified/approved any wrongful conduct and there was no evidence of ratification by their officers, directors or managing agents so that punitive damages were unwarranted.
Injuries and Other Damages
- Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Plaintiff contends that he was injured by forcible sodomy, coerced oral copulation, and horrific bruising to his penis during the rape. The tremendous pain he experienced after the violent attack was prolonged due to defendant’s delay in conducting a comprehensive examination to diagnose his injuries and providing needed treatment and pain medication.
Photographs from the emergency room provide vivid depiction of the anal area that was described as excoriated with multiple lacerations. Photographs of the mouth reveal traumatic bruising with open cuts from the forcible oral copulation, while the penis had massive dark bruising.
Defendants contended that the perianal redness and lacerations were the result of being incontinent of bowel and bladder with chronic diarrhea and 24/7 wearing an adult diaper. Plaintiff’s claimed “traumatic bruising” of the mouth was actually petechial hemorrhages caused by plaintiff’s underlying liver disease, thrombocytopenia (low platelets) and a coagulopathy disorder which caused him to bleed and bruise easily.
It was unclear as to what caused the bruises to the penis although the medical testimony was consistent that they were not fresh and predated the time of the alleged rape. A few hours after the alleged assault, while at the emergency room, plaintiff’s comprehensive evaluation concluded there was no need for any treatment or pain medication.
Plaintiff further contends that the brutal rape produced a life-altering personality change whereby after the sexual assault he became quiet and withdrawn, a claim not confirmed by the medical records.
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: Plaintiff was a Medicare patient for which no lien had yet been received. Plaintiff argued that he should be awarded sufficient costs to pay for a “better quality skilled nursing facility where such violent assaults don’t occur.” No amount given.
Demands and Offers
- Plaintiff §998 Demand: $1,400,000
- Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: $750,000
- Plaintiff Demand during Trial: $1,500,000
- Defendant §998 Offer: Prior to trial, defendant hospice company offered $50,001 and defendant skilled nursing facility offered $100,000.