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Jury Holds Hospital Responsible For Sexual Assault Of Patient

On August 30, 1997, a patient at The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR) was sexually assaulted. The patient was sexually assaulted by another patient who was also in the care of TIRR. At the time of the assault, TIRR had actual knowledge of the perpetrator’s sexual propensities.

Before the occurrence, TIRR had been informed that he was unstable and was very likely to enter another patient’s room and take sexual advantage of them. On prior occasions, the nurses at TIRR had reported that he would walk around the hospital seeking out people to have sex with him. The nurses admitted that it was very likely that he would eventually enter into another patient’s room and commit sexual assault.

On August 30, 1997, he entered the room of another patient without permission. The patient’s stepfather had informed the nurses of the intrusion. The nurses assured the stepfather that this would not happen again. However, the nurses did nothing to prevent him from reentering the room. A few hours later, he reentered the room and raped the patient.

The Barton Law Firm filed suit against TIRR, alleging they should have protected our client from the serious and unwarranted attack. By failing to protect her from the dangerous patient, TIRR breached its duty of care. We successfully proved that TIRR did nothing to increase the vigilance over her room and failed to take steps to prevent the rape. TIRR even failed in its duty by not adhering to the required observation of potentially dangerous patient.

A twelve person jury found unanimously that TIRR was negligent and thus responsible for the sexual assault. The jury awarded $300,000 in damages. The damages were for the mental anguish the patient had sustained in the past because of the sexual assault. The court also awarded $142,500 as prejudgment interest from the date that the suit was filed to the date of the final judgment. The jury verdict and the prejudgment interest brought the total judgment amount to $442,500

Citation: N.N. Individually and A/N/F of A.B. v. The Institute of Rehabilitation and Research, No. 1999-42840 (Tex., Harris Co. 334th Jud. Dist. May 29, 2002).