Plaintiff was a 30-year-old married woman who alleged that she was raped by a janitor at her apartment complex while she was in the sauna. The man who allegedly raped her fled and was never caught. The plaintiff drove herself to the hospital where she alleged the rape and had a rape examination. The rape examination was positive for the fact that she had recently had sex, but was negative for any signs of force.
The apartment complex admitted that it had hired a worker that fit the description of the perpetrator and that the worker never again returned to work after the date of the alleged rape. However, this case took place in the early 80’s before there were protections in place for sexual abuse victims and the defense set out on a strategy to prove that the sex with the employee in the sauna was consensual, that plaintiff had multiple affairs even though she was married, and the defense went so far as to send an investigator to Spain after they learned she had taken a vacation without her husband and found that she had a sexual relationship with a water skiing instructor in Spain.
Further, the defense alleged that the marriage difficulties which plaintiff claimed arose from the sauna incident clearly predated the incident and that plaintiff, who denied under oath ever having an affair, was an unreliable witness since the defense was able to produce evidence of the affair in Spain.
John Winer was an associate for another firm and performed substantial work on the case including taking testimony and litigation.
The law firm was able to establish that the apartment complex had received a prior complaint against the perpetrator for stalking an attractive resident; yet, the apartment complex did not take the complaint seriously, thus putting the other residents, including plaintiff, at risk. The law firm attempted to focus the case on the potential punitive (punishment) damage risk of the defendant and away from the plaintiff who did have credibility problems.
RESULT: Settlement on behalf of plaintiff of $300,000