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ARTICLE ID 157703

$________ AGAINST HEALTH CARE PROVIDER Employer's liability - Negligent hiring of nurse who suffered from alcoholism and drug addiction - Female sexual assault upon disabled 17-year-old boy.

Essex County, NJ

The plaintiff contended that the defendant health care facility was negligent in hiring and retaining the nurse and in failing to more fully evaluate her background. The plaintiff maintained that the facility negligently failed to determine that the 44-year-old individual nurse had prior bouts of alcoholism, heroin use and was on methadone at the time of her employment. The nurse was assigned to the home of the 17-year-old learning disabled boy who also suffering from muscular dystrophy and has extremely limited movement of hands and arms.

The defendant nurse usually was present when the boy’s single mother was at work. The plaintiff contended that within two months, the boy’s mother noticed love marks (hickies) on her son’s neck. He at first denied anything happened at all, later explaining that he feared that he would be taken from his mother and placed in a foster home. The plaintiff further established that upon further questioning, the boy admitted that the female nurse "sucked on my thing" and put my hands on her breasts and vagina. The mother called the police who notified DYFS and the prosecutor’s office, who in turn notified the State Board of Nursing.

The nurse was arrested, immediately terminated from her position and her health care license was revoked. She later pled guilty to second-degree sexual assault upon a minor and was sentenced to a four year prison sentence. The facility claimed privacy rights prevented prior employers from revealing more information that might have led to further inquiry of the nurse. The healthcare facility’s insurance carrier denied coverage to the nurse, who proceeded pro se in the litigation.

The suit was brought under common law claims and the fee-shifting provisions of both the Federal Civil Rights Act and the Child Sexual Abuse Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:61B-1. The case settled for $________ shortly after the defendant healthcare facility’s motion for Summary Judgment was denied.

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