Hospital liable when physical therapy assistant sexually assaults patient. $1.5 million. Los Angeles County.
Hospital denies negligence when female patient claims assault by a physical therapy assistant.
- Case Name: Margarita De La Rosa vs. White Memorial Medical Center
- Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC477781
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Monday, March 07, 2016
- Date Action was Filed: Sunday, January 01, 2012
- Type of Action: Negligence, Sexual Battery
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Stephen Moloney
- Plaintiffs: Margarita De La Rosa, 68
- Defendants: White Memorial Medical Center
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $1,568,750
- Contributory/Comparative Negligence: Hospital was found 65% at fault, and the individual perpetrator was 35% at fault.
- Economic Damages:
Past medical: $6250
Future medical: $62,500
- Non-Economic Damages:
Past emotional distress: $800,000
Future emotional distress: $700,000
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 10 days
- Jury Deliberation Time: 1 day
- Jury Polls: 10-2
- Attorney for the Plaintiff:
- Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Taylor & Ring by David M. Ring and Louanne Masry, Los Angeles.
- Attorney for the Defendant:
McCurdy & Leibl by Kathryn Mosely and Lee Moulin, Sherman Oaks.
- Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
Elena Konstadt, Ph.D., psychology, Los Angeles.
- Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
Thomas Ciesla, M.D., psychiatry, Santa Monica.
- Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):
Dave Powers, physical therapy, Pacific Palisades.
- Defendant's Technical Expert(s):
Maria Zibell, physical therapy, Los Angeles.
David Lewin, Ph.D., human resources, Los Angeles.
Facts and Background
- Facts and Background:
In 2011, plaintiff was a 68-year-old female who underwent physical therapy at defendant hospital. After a physical therapy session plaintiff reported a sexual assault to the police.The police conducted an investigation but no arrest was made.
- Plaintiff's Contentions:
That female plaintiff \was sexually assaulted by a male physical therapy assistant during a physical therapy session at defendant White Memorial Medical Center. That defendant hospital was liable for the conduct of the physical therapy assistant.
Plaintiff claimed that the physical therapy assistant (PTA) took her to a private room and during the course of doing soft tissue mobilization on her back and legs, he intentionally touched her genitals. The male PTA had a prior complaint about touching another female patient improperly over the clothes several months earlier at the same location.
Plaintiff's statement to the police was consistent with this version of events.
- Defendant's Contentions:
The defendant hospital claimed that no sexual assault occurred and if anything happened at all, according to the plaintiff’s report to the police, the PTA's elbow grazed plaintiff's groin area during the massage.
Hospital claimed that plaintiff's story changed over five times from no touching of the genital area to alleged digital penetration and an intentional sexual assault. The hospital also claimed the prior incident involving the PTA had nothing to do with a sexual touching, as patient was clothed and event was observed and that the hospital properly supervised the PTA at all times.
Injuries and Other Damages
- Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Serious emotional distress suffered by the plaintiff, including PTSD.
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $6,250
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $62,500