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Jan 31, 2022 by |

San Francisco Elder And Dependent Adult Abuse Attorney: Sexually Abused Psychiatric Patients Entitled To $6.75 Million In Non-Economic Damages

ATTORNEY NEWSLETTER

Medical Malpractice Damages Cap Does Not Apply

Elders And Dependent Adults Entitled To Full Non-Economic Damages

Two Former Patients Suffered Sexual Abuse By Hospital Employee

Elders and dependent adults living in nursing homes or other care facilities are at risk of rape and other sexual abuse by employees.  Patients suffering from dementia or other acute mental disorders may not even comprehend what is being done to them or remember a sexual attack or rape later; some patients may receive medications that render them temporarily unconscious for periods of time.  As horrific as it is, rape of mentally ill or cognitively impaired patients is a foreseeable risk in nursing facilities and hospitals.  Evans Law Firm. Inc. represents victims of sexual assault or other abuse in nursing homes, and their families, and pursues all persons responsible, including owners, administrators and managers including awards of non-economic damages and attorneys’ fees and costs for bringing the lawsuit.  Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15657. Call us today at (415)441-8669 if any senior loved one has suffered any kind of elder or dependent adult abuse in San Francisco or elsewhere in California.  Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).

$6.75 Million Noneconomic Damages Award Upheld[1]

In a recent opinion by the Second Appellate District, the Court upheld a $6.75 million jury award of non-economic damages to two psychiatric hospital patients who were sexually abused by a hospital staff member.  The hospital argued that the plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the one-year statute of limitations for professional negligence (C.C.P. § 340.5) and that plaintiffs’ noneconomic damages should be capped at $250,000 in accordance with the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) at Cal. Civil Code § 3333.2(b).  The appellate court rejected both defenses.  First, the Court found that the action was for dependent adult abuse based on defendants’ reckless neglect not professional negligence and that the four-year statute of limitations under Section 15657.7 of the Elder Abuse Act applies.  Second, on the subject of noneconomic damages the Court found that although Section 15657 limits the noneconomic damages a deceased victim’s estate may claim in an elder abuse action, there is no limitation on the noneconomic damages for a living plaintiff.  As the Court wrote, “There is no basis for interpreting the Elder Abuse Act as restricting an award of damages for those fortunate enough to have survived the abuse.”

Enhanced Remedies

Samantha B. is an important victory for elders and dependent adults abused or neglected in care facilities and hospitals.  No longer can defendants in such cases contend that noneconomic damages are capped at $250,000 for victims who have survived abuse in their facilities.  In Samantha B. the jury had found the hospital particularly reckless since the employee had a prior record of sex crimes.  The record also indicated that the hospital failed to supervise the employee properly even though it was on notice of his inappropriate conduct on the job.  According to the record, understaffing at the hospital also meant that patients went unchecked by RNs for long periods of time, and unlicensed workers were able to be in patients’ room unsupervised for long stretches of time as well.  The jury award $6.75 million in noneconomic damages to the victims based on this record, and punitive damages against the hospital management company.

Contact Us

Ingrid M. Evans represents California seniors and dependent adults who have been victims of elder abuse including abuse and neglect or sexual abuse in nursing homes.  Call Ingrid at once if you suspect something is wrong.  You can reach us at (415) 441-8669, or email us at <a href=”mailto:info@evanslaw.com”>info@evanslaw.com</a>.  Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).

[1] Evans Law Firm, Inc. is not involved in the case in any way.  The case is captioned Samantha B., et al. v. Aurora Vista Del Mar, LLC, et al., Case No. B302321 (Second District Ct. of Appeal Dec. 20, 2021).

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