Patient sexually assaulted by EMS worker and a question of care by EMS


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What happened to our client is unthinkable, but our role was to help the victim overcome the additional trauma and to make sure this kind of thing doesn't happen again. In June of 2011, our client, "Jane Doe," called 911 for medical assistance after a domestic assault, and two Charleston County EMS workers responded to her need for medical care. Although the EMS workers determined that she required "non-emergent" care, they nonetheless strapped her to a spine board and placed her in the back of the EMS transport vehicle. Jane Doe reported that during transport to the hospital, while restrained and further incapacitated, she was sexually assaulted and touched in an inappropriate manner at least three separate times. This assault caused physical injury and severe emotional trauma that necessitated multiple visits for inpatient psychiatric care, in addition to ongoing medical expenses and a loss of wages. The assaulting EMS worker pled guilty to the charges, and Clore Law Group attorneys filed suit against Charleston County EMS on behalf of the victim. Clore Law (on behalf of "Jane Doe") argued that, in addition to the EMS worker who made the assault, the county operating the EMS and employing the EMS workers had a responsibility to protect the victim from harm while in the custody of the EMS workers. We showed that the county did not have appropriate policies in place to prevent such an occurrence, nor did it appropriately monitor, train, or educate its employees with policies consistent with national standards. Clore Law attorneys presented multiple experts on the violation of the standard of care and damages in the case, and prior to a trial, we were able to negotiate a substantial settlement for the victim. This case was also significant in that it raised the issue that "common carrier" standards are not applied by South Carolina law in this instance. In this state, a taxi cab client is afforded greater protection under the common carrier provision than a patient in an EMS vehicle. This was noted by the Judge, but is an issue that will have to be addressed by the legislature.

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