North Carolina Court of Appeal Discusses Appeal in Nursing Home Sexual Assault Case

A nursing home accident is incredibly stressful for the victim and his or her family. It is even more painful when we learn that our loved one suffered intentional abuse at the hands of the people who we trusted to take care of him or her. If you or a loved one have recently been the victim of abuse in a nursing home, the Charlotte nursing home abuse lawyers of Maurer Law are available to discuss your potential claim for compensation.

Recently, the North Carolina Court of Appeal considered a case in which the plaintiff, a resident at an independent living facility, sued the facility alleging that one of its employees acted improperly and exposed himself to her while in her private room. The plaintiff had been moved to an advanced care section of the facility after developing dementia. According to the defendant’s employee involved in the incident, the plaintiff had become confused after lunch and was unable to find her room. The employee escorted the plaintiff back to her room. He closed the bottom half of the double dutch door behind them and left the top open.

After he left the room, the plaintiff informed her personal aide that the employee had exposed himself to her and forced her to touch his genitals. Several authorities within the facility were notified of the incident, including the employee, who was suspended pending investigation of the sexual battery charges.

The facility and the employee moved for summary judgment. The court denied the employee’s motion for summary judgment, but granted the facility’s motion. The trial proceeded with the plaintiff’s claims against the employee. The jury eventually entered a verdict unanimously determining that the employee did not commit a sexual battery against the plaintiff.

The plaintiff appealed the outcome on the basis that the trial court should not have granted summary judgment for the facility. She alleged, among other things, that there was enough evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether the defendant negligently retained the employee and ratified his conduct. It also alleged that the lower court erred by excluding a prior allegation of assault against the employee by another facility resident.

In reviewing these grounds for appeal, the reviewing court concluded that the lower court did not commit a reversible error. Regarding the exclusion of evidence regarding the prior assault allegation, the appellate court found that the evidence’s potential to unfairly prejudice the jury outweighed any probative value that it had to offer in the litigation. Also, evidentiary Rule 404(b) explicitly prohibits evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts for the purpose of showing that the defendant acted in conformity with the prior conduct in the present situation.

If you or someone you love was injured or assaulted in a nursing home or other care facility, the dedicated Charlotte nursing home abuse lawyers of Maurer Law are prepared to help you seek the justice that you deserve. We offer a free consultation so that you can learn more about our legal team and how we can help you with all aspects of your claim. Call our office today at 888-258-1087 or contact us online to get started.

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