Trial Results in Therapist Abuse Cases

At Winer, McKenna, Burritt & Tillis LLP, your case is given the utmost attention and concern. Our firm offers generous resources to your case. Our attorneys take on the most well-financed defendants in the most challenging of situations at all levels of court throughout California.

Cases at our law firm are always handled on a contingency fee basis, and we fully finance all aspects of case preparation and litigation. Only if we obtain a favorable verdict on your behalf do we collect attorney fees.

Our partner attorneys have more than 60 years of combined legal experience, and we lead a team of seasoned litigators with offices in San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles.

Have you been the victim of mistreatment, harassment or abuse from a therapist in California? Call us today to confidentially discuss your unique circumstances and legal options. To speak with a lawyer, call 800-652-6137.

Significant Trial Results In Therapist Abuse Cases

We handle and pursue verdicts with society at large in mind. Our attorneys work tirelessly in the best interests of our clients, but we are aware of the implications that the verdicts we achieve will have throughout California and across the U.S. Several of our cases have had national implications. The size of the final award does not speak to the overall significance of the case, but we strive for the maximum compensation that our clients deserve, and we work diligently to achieve that goal.

The results of the cases below were based on the facts of the particular case. Results will differ if based on different facts.

$7.13 Million — Prescription Drugs Lead To Brain Damage And Abuse Case Against Doctor

Winer, McKenna, Burritt & Tillis LLP, represented a 43-year-old woman who had seen the same psychiatrist for 10 years. During that time, he prescribed drugs that caused plaintiff to suffer from a brain injury and sexually abused his patient. As a result of her injuries, plaintiff became severely disabled, was unable to work for over 10 years and extensive future treatment was recommended. Plaintiff brought simultaneous licensing board, criminal and civil actions against defendant.

Defendant's attorneys defended the case by conceding that defendant was negligent in his treatment of plaintiff, but denied that he, in any way, injured her. The defense claimed that plaintiff was so psychologically disturbed before she saw defendant (evidenced by multiple long-term hospitalizations, chaotic relationships and a very sporadic employment history) that she was no different after seeing defendant than she was before.

Because of the long time of treatment, defendant was insured by several malpractice insurance companies. One of those companies settled with plaintiff for $600,000 before the trial. The other insurance company failed to offer plaintiff any money whatsoever. Thus, with no offer, plaintiff was forced to go to trial.

Winer, McKenna, Burritt & Tillis LLP, tried the case to a $7.13 million verdict, which was believed to be the largest compensatory damage verdict for therapist abuse in the United States at the time. Defendant lost his license and spent nine months in jail.

The litigation of this case and the verdict received national media attention. It was listed as one of the hundred most significant verdicts in the country by the National Law Journal, and John D. Winer was featured in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journal (legal newspapers) under its "Featured Legal Profile" section. The case was also on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Result: $7.13 million verdict in favor of plaintiff (in addition to $600,000 prior settlement)

$1.566 Million Woman Wrongly Prescribed Drugs And Sexually Abused By Her Psychiatrist, Internist And Priest

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, Winer, McKenna, Burritt & Tillis LLP, decided not to 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 that 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, 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 million

$1.42 Million — Female Patient Wins Judgment In A Physical And Sexual Abuse Case Against Her Psychotherapist

Plaintiff, a young woman in her early 20s who had a very disturbed childhood, began treating with a female psychologist she met at a counseling center. Over time, the psychologist inappropriately engaged plaintiff in a personal, sexual relationship that culminated in a fight in which the therapist attacked plaintiff, and then used her authority to have plaintiff arrested and criminal charges brought against her.

Winer, McKenna, Burritt & Tillis LLP, was retained to represent plaintiff. The law firm was able to establish that because of the power dynamic between the therapist and patient the therapist bore full responsibility for this doomed relationship and alleged that it was an act of abuse for defendant to have plaintiff arrested when she was the source of plaintiff having a nervous breakdown, losing control and entering into physical combat with defendant.

Result: Judgment on behalf of plaintiff of $1.42 million.

$1.35 Million Psychologist Utilizes Inappropriate 'Re-Parenting' Techniques On Patient

Plaintiff was a 30-year-old woman who went to a psychologist to help her with problems she was having adjusting to a new life in the Bay Area. Defendant decided that the plaintiff required "re-parenting" therapy in which he had the plaintiff sit on his lap during therapy sessions and rest her head on his shoulders. After several months, defendant began touching plaintiff's breasts in the therapy sessions. Finally, the plaintiff felt that his behavior was inappropriate and left therapy.

The defendant admitted all of the above conduct but stated that it was part of treatment. The law offices of Winer, McKenna, Burritt & Tillis LLP, retained experts to indicate that re-parenting treatment in itself is highly questionable and under no circumstances would include the touching of breasts. The defendant refused to settle so the case went to arbitration (i.e., a trial in front of a judge/attorney).

Result: Arbitration award for plaintiff of $1.35 million

Free Consultation With An Attorney

Contact Winer, McKenna, Burritt & Tillis LLP, by calling 800-652-6137 to schedule a free initial consultation.