Court provides guidance on issues arising in case where doctor groped his patient
Jane Doe sued Vidal Borromeo, a physician, and William Beaumont Hospital, after the physician groped her while she was partially paralyzed as a result of vaccine paralysis. Under the guise of conducting an examination during a daily round filling in for Doe's regular physician, Borromeo sexually assaulted the patient beneath her gown, groping her breasts and below her waist. When she was able, she filed a lawsuit alleging an intentional assault and also alleging that Beaumont had acted negligently in supervising Borromeo.
Borromeo initally convinced the trial judge that Doe was not entitled to pursue the claim pseudonymously. Immediately after, however, he apparently stopped paying his lawyer, who withdrew from representing him, and a default judgment was entered against him. Since the latter judgment was most likely uncollectible, the case continued against Beaumont.Beaumont argued that Doe's case should be dismissed because it was not pled as a malpractice case and because Beaumont was not responsible for Borromeo's intentional acts, even if he was an employee or apparent agent of the Hospital. It also continued Borromeo's argument that Doe's case should not be pursued under a pseudonym.
- The trial court dismissed the case and Doe pursued it on appeal. The appellate court noted that under a recent ruling of the Michigan Supreme Court Republican majority, an employer is not responsible for the intentional or criminal act of an employee, EVEN IF THE AGENCY/EMPLOYMENT RELATIONSHIP ENABLED THE EMPLOYEE TO COMMIT THE WRONGFUL ACT. Therefore, the Court agreed with Beaumont that it would not be vicariously liable for Borromeo's sexual assault. On the other hand, the court pointed out that since Doe had alleged actual negligence by Beaumont in failing to monitor and supervise Borromeo, the case should not have been dismissed until Doe had the opportunity to investigate Beaumont's responsibility for the act. If Beaumont had reason to know of Borromeo's propensity, it could be responsible to Doe because of its own negligence, even while avoiding responsibility for its employee's wrongful act.
Next, the Court pointed out that Beaumont had not argued the pseudonym issue in the lower court: therefore the court sent the case back to the trial court for the court to address that issue. The appellate panel identified the specific factors which must be considered for a court to allow a plaintiff to pursue a legal claim under a pseudonym rather than under his or her own name.