Plaintiff in this case was a 35-year-old woman who had been involved in an inappropriate sexual relationship with her psychiatrist, internist and priest. As a strategy decision, the law offices of Winer, McKenna, Burritt & Tillis LLP, decided to not sue the internist and settled with the church that employed the priest.
Thus, the case proceeded against the psychiatrist who was the first of the three professionals to sexually abuse the plaintiff. The psychiatrist prescribed a number of psychotropic drugs including benzodiazepines like Valium which had significant side effects for the plaintiff. The drug issue was hotly contested at trial with Defendant’s experts downplaying the significance of the side effects of the drugs.
In the case, the law firm took the position that, due to significant childhood vulnerabilities, the psychiatrist was able to use his experience and training to seduce his patient into an inappropriate sexual relationship, which caused her a great deal of damage including a feeling of worthlessness which made her vulnerable to the later abuse by the priest and internist.
Largely because the plaintiff had been in sexual relationships with three different professionals, the defense did not take the case seriously and only offered $150,000 to settle before trial.
At the trial, the law offices of Winer, McKenna, Burritt & Tillis LLP, was able to establish that defendant had violated the rules of his profession by engaging in a sexual relationship with plaintiff. Further, John Winer was able to establish that, due to the transference phenomenon that occurs in psychotherapy, plaintiff was not able to consent to the sexual relationship and, in fact, part of the damage caused by defendant was that plaintiff’s self-esteem sunk so low that she allowed herself to be violated by other men. Further, Mr. Winer prevailed on the drug issue, establishing that the drug interaction had a significant effect on a number of plaintiff’s internal physiological and psychological systems.
The verdict in this case resulted in a front-page article in the San Francisco Chronicle as well as additional media coverage in the Bay Area. Plaintiff and John Winer appeared on several talk shows after this case and were featured on a national news magazine show.
RESULT: Verdict for the plaintiff of $1,566,000