[Los Angeles, CA} - We are pleased to announce a significant trial victory in the case involving allegations of sexual battery brought by plaintiff against her physician. Following a two week trial, the jury returned a defense verdict for WSHB’s client, a nephrologist and internal medicine specialist.
The case involved allegations made by plaintiff against WSHB’s physician client during a December 2015 office visit. Plaintiff claimed that that the physician demanded that she remove her blouse and change into a gown in front of him, followed by an alleged incident of groping her breasts. The trial encompassed causes of action including Medical Negligence, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Battery, and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress against the physician. Additionally, a Negligent Retention/Hiring claim was brought against the HMO group resulting in a cross-action filed against the physician. Punitive damages were also sought by plaintiff.
Throughout the litigation process, plaintiff reported the alleged incident to the HMO, the LAPD, and the Medical Board of California. WSHB’s physician client, who was 81 years old at the time of the incident and believed to be showing signs of age-related dementia, faced professional consequences as his hospital privileges were terminated. He was also required to undergo a PACE program evaluation. Ultimately, in 2019, his medical license was suspended due to his memory impairment, as determined by a Medical Board trial.
The trial itself faced several delays, including the tolling of the five-year statute of limitations due to the pandemic and the unfortunate passing of the physician in May 2022. Additionally, the loss of two key witnesses further complicated proceedings. Nevertheless, our dedicated legal team persisted in presenting a strong defense.
During the trial, our argument centered around the distinction between negligence and intentional acts, specifically related to the alleged groping of plaintiff’s breasts. The judge agreed with our position, resulting in the dismissal of the medical negligence cause of action.
“We relied on a videotaped deposition of our client which strategically had not included any questions from our side.,” explained trial lawyer Constance Endelicato. Plaintiff argued in closing that our physician had never denied the allegations. However, we were able to present evidence that plaintiff herself testified during the trial that our client had denied grabbing her breasts. This inconsistency in her testimony, combined with conflicting statements regarding the alleged incident of undressing in front of our client, ultimately worked in our favor.”
The jury's verdict was resolute, with unanimous findings of 12-0 on Sexual Battery and majority decisions of 11-1 on Sexual Harassment and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress.
We extend our heartfelt gratitude to our dedicated legal team, including law clerk Jonathan Victor, who provided invaluable assistance throughout all phases of the trial. We would also like to recognize the tireless efforts of Mark Weaver and Tabetha Gonzalez, whose research, briefing, and administrative support were instrumental to our success.
“This trial victory is a testament to our commitment to justice, fairness, and unwavering dedication to our clients,” said Endelicato. “The jury got it right, and it is unfortunate our client never lived to see his good name cleared. Nonetheless, we remained steadfast in our pursuit of truth.”