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$3.7 Million Verdict Against Dental Group for Sexual Assault of Patient Reveals Importance of an Experienced Attorney

February 02, 2015

When patients consent to medical treatment in a medical facility or dental clinic, they anticipate that they will receive medical care consistent with establish professional standards. While many people understand that sometimes medical mistakes and omissions occur, the possibility that a member of a medical care team will commit a sexual assault on an unconscious patient is much harder to imagine.

A recent $3.7 million Fulton County jury verdict against a dental clinic serves as a reminder that unfortunately this type abuse does occur. The judgment against the dental clinic was based on allegations that a young woman was sodomized and sexually molested by a nurse anesthesiologist.

The dental clinic asserted a common defense strategy used in cases involving medical errors or misconduct by attempting to divert blame to other parties. Paul Serdula, the nurse who committed the alleged sexual assault, was not a viable defendant because he was serving a life sentence in state prison. When harm or injury is caused by a criminal act, malpractice insurance policies generally have exclusions that apply to intentional criminal acts. Criminal offenders also may have limited access to assets to pay a judgment.

If the victim of a sexual or physical assault seeks damage for harm suffered from such a criminal offense, the ability to obtain fair compensation often necessitates establishing the fault of other parties. In the Fulton County lawsuit, the dental clinic attempted to persuade the jury to apportion fault between the nurse anesthesiologist and the dental clinic. The jury rejected this defense and determined that the dental clinic was 100 percent responsible for the assault on the victim.

The importance of identifying all viable defendants and sources of insurance is just one way that seeking out an experienced personal injury lawyer can positively impact a settlement or judgment. This principle also applies in more garden variety car accident c cases involving an uninsured driver. While an injury victim might have access to uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage in a car accident lawsuit involving a negligent driver, cases involving criminal assault or battery, such as the one discussed in this blog usually make it necessary to find another viable defendant.

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Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.