Las Vegas Sun

May 3, 2015

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Woman sues hospital over alleged assault while in ‘coma-like state’

MountainView Hospital

A Las Vegas-area woman has sued MountainView Hospital, charging nurses negligently let a man enter her room and that the man then raped her.

The woman filed suit Thursday in Clark County District Court against MountainView, part of Nashville-based HCA Inc.'s Sunrise Health System. Also named as a defendant is a man the woman claims attacked her.

Because the woman says she is a victim of sexual assault, the Sun is not naming her. And because criminal charges have not been filed against the man in connection with the alleged incident, the Sun is not naming him.

The lawsuit says that in September 2007, the woman was hospitalized for treatment of multiple sclerosis and that she was semi-conscious and asleep when her daughter, who had been with her, left for the evening.

At about 1:30 a.m. on the morning in question, the defendant man represented to nurses that he was the patient's brother and had come from California to see her, the lawsuit says.

The nurses allowed him to enter and then did not check on the patient while the man was with her, the suit charges.

It says the man "entered the patient's room and closed the door, removed her clothes, sexually groped her and repeatedly sodomized her."

In a statement Tuesday responding to the lawsuit, MountainView said the woman didn't report the alleged incident to hospital officials at the time.

"We take such accusations very seriously. We are committed to providing a safe and secure environment for our patients, visitors and staff," MountainView's statement said. "Our process in this kind of matter is to contact law enforcement authorities immediately when we are notified so they can investigate whether any criminal activity occurred. We just received the details of the lawsuit today and our preliminary investigation shows that in this particular instance we were not notified by the patient of any such incident while she was a patient at our hospital in 2007 and no criminal investigation occurred. Out of respect for the patient’s privacy we can’t provide additional information at this time."

The woman's lawsuit asserts claims including negligence, infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract. The woman claims to have suffered "the indignity of not being cared for properly in a hospital setting."

In seeking general and punitive damages, the lawsuit seeks to recover medical expenses and past and future psychological expenses.

"Included in every contract for medical services is an obligation on the part of defendant, Sunrise MountainView Hospital, to provide a safe and secure location on which hospital admitees can recover," the lawsuit says. "Sunrise MountainView Hospital breached the respective contract with plaintiff in that they failed to keep her secure from sexual predators while she was in a coma-like state."

Attorneys for the firm filing the suit, Mainor Eglet Cottle, didn't immediately respond to questions including how the defendant man was identified as the alleged attacker and whether he knows or is related to the alleged victim.

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