Representing Roysekka Herring was an honor for the Kafoury & McDougal law firm. This was a case where a true heroine stood up and confronted her attacker, and humbled the largest ambulance company in the United States. In a trial that generated an enormous amount of media attention, Ms. Herring sued AMR Ambulance Company after ambulance attendant Lannie Haszard sexually abused her on the way to the hospital. Despite the fact that Haszard had had three complaints of sexual misconduct in the previous 14 months, AMR kept him on the job where he was routinely alone with women in the back of an ambulance. Of the other 500 local AMR ambulance attendants, not a single one had had any such complaints.
After Haszard’s third accuser described how Haszard had sexually abused her, AMR officials from across the Northwest – including risk management – gathered to decide what to do. Their meeting notes showed they agreed not to discuss the matter further outside the management group, despite the fact that they knew that this third incident was under police investigation. No one at AMR told the investigating officers about Haszard’s two prior sexual misconduct complaints.
Months later, Royshekka Herring was molested while being transported to Emanuel Emergency. There, the hospital staff was initially dismissive of her allegations, and when she refused to be silent and tried to leave, a staff nurse called security to restrain her. Eventually, the police were brought in, and their investigation led to Haszard’s arrest.
Kafoury & McDougal were able to get the names of 500 women who were transported by Haszard in the prior three years. Of those that Kafoury & McDougal were able to contact, 35 of them reported some form of sexual assault by Haszard. Kafoury & McDougal represented 15 of those women.
Haszard is now serving a prison term.
Ms. Herring was awarded $3.25 million by a Portland jury in October, 2009, along with an additional $600,000 in attorney fees. Mr. Haszard was sentenced to a total of eight and a half years in prison, will undergo years of post-prison supervision, and will have to register as a sex offender. Had it not been for Ms. Herring literally standing on her bed in the hospital and screaming that she wanted Mr. Haszard out of her room, who knows how many more victims would have been abused?
After a nearly month-long trial in The Dalles, Oregon, a Wasco County jury returned a verdict of $2.4 million for three women who were molested during surgery by anesthesiologist Frederick Field. Plaintiffs W.L. Gmeinder and Erin Vance were awarded $900,000 and $700,000 in non-economic damages, respectively. Mark McDougal, Greg Kafoury and Jason Kafoury of Kafoury & McDougal represented them. Sharon Hobbs was represented by Jan Wyers, and was awarded $800,000.
The jury unanimously found the hospital liable for negligence and battery. The key allegations were that hospital officials told the women who complained about Field that they had been imagining things, then concealed documentary evidence and made false and misleading statements to police once an investigation began, all in order to avoid scandal and liability for the hospital.
Whenever victims of abuse come forward and challenge their abusers, and those who covered up for these sexual predators, it allows others to step forward as well. So far, 19 women have come forward to accuse Dr. Field of sexual assault; he pled guilty to molesting 12 of them and was sentenced to 23 years in prison. Kafoury & McDougal represent four other women whose trial is pending.
The actions of the three plaintiffs brought to light a history of assault and cover-ups at MCMC, ending Field’s reign of terror. Putting Dr. Field in prison stops the violence and ensures he will have no other victims. Forcing the hospital to pay damages should ensure that changes will be made, and that sexual assault claims against hospital employees will be properly investigated to avoid more lawsuits and adverse publicity.
At Dr. Field’s sentencing in 2012, Greg Kafoury publicly declared, “I want to promise this community that those who knew, those who were told and those who concealed will be brought to trial.” In the fall of 2013, that promise was kept.
Jeffrey McAllister worked as a nurse in the ER of Legacy Emanuel Hospital, and he has been charged with sexually assaulting seven women between October, 2009, and February, 2013. He awaits a criminal trial later this year. It was apparently McAllister’s practice to target women who had prior drug, alcohol or emotional problems, especially if they were poor or even homeless. He would give them powerful narcotics under the guise of providing treatment, then molest them when they were too helpless to resist.
An important question in our firm’s civil litigation against Legacy will be how McAllister was able to prey on helpless women for years without being detected. His employment file at Emanuel shows that an accusation of sexual abuse was made against him in 2006. We now know of accusations against McAllister made by patients in September, 2012; October, 2012; January, 2013; and February, 2013. Nonetheless, McAllister somehow stayed on the job where he had access to narcotics and vulnerable women until April, 2013.
This is yet another instance of a lack of institutional control and blatant disregard for patient safety. Hospital administrators should take all accusations of sexual assault seriously, but yet again we see complaints inadequately investigated, or not investigated at all, allowing this sexual predator to continue to prey on innocent victims. Civil litigation is pending and we will update this story as the situation unfolds.
UPDATE: Nurse McAllister plead guilty to 10 different sex crimes in Multnomah County Circuit Court on Tuesday, September 9th, 2014. McAllister plead guilty to two counts of first-degree sex abuse; one count of second-degree sex abuse; four counts of third-degree sex abuse; first-degree unlawful sexual penetration; first-degree attempted sexual abuse and patronizing a prostitute. He will be sentenced on September 24th, and is facing a probable 15 year prison sentence, with 11 years of post-prison supervision. He will also register as a sex offender. For more on this story, see Maxine Bernstein’s article in the Oregonian here. Also, see the Koin 6 news story here.