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California Psych Hospital Liable For Sexual Abuse Of Patients


A verdict in their favor cannot take back the devastating experiences of two victims who were sexually abused by employees at a California psychiatric hospital, but these victories serve as justice. A state appellate court ruled on April 5, 2022 that the Ventura based facility is liable to the victims for a total amount $6.75 million in damages. At trial, the jury found that the psychiatric center engaged in various forms of negligent conduct, which enabled employees to take advantage of and sexually abuse vulnerable patients. The appeals court upheld this finding.

The mental hospital has already indicated its intent to appeal and request a new trial, claiming the amount of compensation is excessive and unconstitutional. However, the case is useful for understanding how a health care facility can be accountable under certain circumstances. An Oakland abuse and neglect lawyer can explain your rights in more detail if you or a loved one suffered harm, but a legal summary may be helpful. 

Liability Factors for Sexual Abuse

 It is unusual that a health care facility could be liable for the intentional, criminal acts of its employees, this psychiatric hospital engaged in separate acts of negligent conduct. All California medical providers are required to provide treatment in accordance with the standard of care that applies to the situation. In its opinion, the appellate court agreed with the trial judge that the psychiatric facility breached the duty of care and failed to protect against sexual abuse by: 

  • Hiring mental health care workers instead of certified nursing assistants (CNAs), who are subject to stricter licensing requirements;
  • Failing to enforce policies on allowing male employees to be alone with female patients in hospital rooms;
  • Negligence in hiring a worker who had been convicted of sexual assault in the past; and,
  • Not reporting incidents of dating between a male employee and recently released female psychiatric patient. 

Legal Help with Seeking Compensation 

Damages in personal injury cases aim to make the victim whole after suffering injuries, including harm from a sexual assault that occurred because of negligence. There are two types of compensation available under California law: 

  1. Economic Damages: This class is intended to reimburse for tangible, definable losses that result from sexual abuse injuries. Medical costs, lost wages, and out-of-pocket amounts for treatment are examples.
  1. Noneconomic Damages: Some losses are not easy to quantify because they affect you personally. However in court, the jury has to place a dollar value on pain and suffering, including all hardship because of the at-fault party’s misconduct. Other examples of noneconomic damages include emotional distress, scarring, disfigurement, and other losses that impact your quality of life. 

Consult with Our Oakland Car Accident Attorneys About Your Options

This overview explains how a health care facility can be liable for negligence that affects patient care, but there are many additional details that affect your rights. For more information, please contact Venardi Zurada, LLP at our offices in Oakland, Walnut Creek or Redding, CA. We can set up a no-cost consultation with an abuse and neglect lawyer who will advise you on the laws.


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