Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lisa M. v. Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital case brief

Lisa M. v. Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital case brief summary
907 P.2d 358 (1995)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Defendant hospital sought review of a decision from the Court of Appeal (California), which reversed the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendant in an action brought by plaintiff patient after she was sexually molested by an ultrasound technician employed by defendant. Plaintiff alleged that defendant was vicariously liable for the technician's misconduct under the doctrine of respondeat superior.

CASE FACTS
Plaintiff patient brought an action against defendant hospital after a technician employed by defendant sexually molested plaintiff, under the pretense of conducting an obstetrical ultrasound imaging exam. The appellate court reversed the grant of summary judgment in favor of defendant. Plaintiff maintained that triable issues of fact existed as to whether defendant was vicariously liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior, or was directly liable for its own negligence in failing to have a third person present during the exam.

DISCUSSION
  • The court reversed the judgment of the appellate court finding that summary judgment in favor of defendant was proper, and remanded for a determination of the negligence issue. 
  • The court concluded that nothing happened in the course of the prescribed examination to provoke or encourage the technician's improper touching of plaintiff, and that the technician's sexual assault on plaintiff was fairly attributed not to any peculiar aspect of the health care enterprise, but only to propinquity and lust. 
  • There was no causal nexus between the technician's tortious conduct and his job so as to hold defendant vicariously liable for the act of its employee.

CONCLUSION

The court reversed the judgment of the appellate court, reversing a grant of summary judgment in favor of defendant hospital, and remanded to that court for further proceedings. The trial court did not err in granting summary judgment, because defendant could not have been held vicariously liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior, for an ultrasound technician's actions in sexually assaulting plaintiff patient during an exam.

Suggested Study Aids For Tort Law

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