Plaintiff was a 30-year-old woman who was referred to a psychologist due to her chronic leg pain not responding to traditional physical treatment modalities. Defendant was a specialist in treating patients with physical disorders.
Over the course of time, this San Diego psychologist convinced plaintiff that her leg pain was caused by her repressed sexuality and the only way that she would be able to overcome her leg pain would be to engage in ever-escalating sexual contact with defendant. Defendant psychologist was eventually arrested and convicted of inappropriate conduct with a patient.
The civil case focused on the clinic’s responsibility for damages incurred by plaintiff at the hands of defendant since the psychiatrist was uninsured and did not have significant assets. The clinic took the position that it had no way of knowing that the psychologist was abusing plaintiff and that the clinic could not be responsible under the doctrine of respondeat superior because the psychologist’s actions by definition were outside the scope of his employment.
After a long, hard-fought litigation and three mediations, the case finally settled for $2,000,000. During the course of the litigation, Winer, McKenna, Burritt & Tillis LLP, was able to develop evidence which indicated that defendant knew or should have known of the psychologist’s dangerous propensities in time to at least stop his most severe abuse of plaintiff. Further, the facts of this particular case in which the sexual abuse was alleged to be a part of treatment made it impossible to separate what was or was not within the course and scope of the psychologist’s employment. Further, the law firm retained an expert psychiatrist who was of the opinion that plaintiff would require several million dollars’ worth of psychotherapy and possibly hospitalization to overcome the injury suffered by plaintiff in the course of treatment.
$2,000,000 settlement on behalf of plaintiff