Articles Posted in Sexual Abuse

As West Palm Beach sexual assault lawyers can explain, many civil sexual abuse cases are filed against employers because predators too often gain access to victims while acting in their professional capacity. Claims of negligent hiring stem from Florida courts’ recognition that employers can be held liable for their employees’ willful negligence or even criminal misconduct (including sexual assault) if the employer knew or should have known prior to hiring that the worker posed a possible threat to the public. West Palm Beach sexual assault attorneys

When a company fails to properly vet its employees, this can be a breach of the duty of reasonable care owed to customers, clients, visitors, patients, students, etc. Thorough background checks may be especially important when the job is one of significant trust or involves serving vulnerable populations. Examples may include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Teachers
  • Police officers
  • Medical professionals
  • Nursing home staff
  • Hotel staffers
  • School sports organizations

A claim of negligent hiring asserts employer liability for failure to exercise due diligence in hiring someone, who in turn goes on to injure someone in the course of their employment. This sort of claim isn’t limited to sexual assault cases. For example, a trucking company that fails to check truckers’ past driving records could be fairly accused of negligent hiring if a driver with a spotty driving history later causes a serious crash.

Related torts include negligent retention (employer was negligent in continuing to employ the person) and negligent supervision (employer failed to adequately supervise employee). For each, plaintiffs must prove that the employer’s lapse proximately caused the plaintiff’s injury. Negligent security is another possibly related tort. Negligent security is when abuse or assault occurs on the premises of a property owner/manager that failed to provide an adequate level of security. Continue reading

Florida has two sets of legal justice systems: Criminal and civil. The sole purpose of the criminal justice system is to punish the offender. Prosecutors represent the government in pursuing charges. In criminal sexual assault cases, the survivor is a witness. In the civil justice system, the survivor is the driving force, with the primary goal of compensation to the victim for physical harm, emotional damages and other adverse impacts. In some cases, survivors can compel third parties (schools, hospitals, sports programs, etc.) to compensate them for any negligence that created an opportunity for the assault to occur. Civil actions can also result in third parties being ordered to to take certain actions to prevent future assaults. Florida sexual assault civil lawyer

As South Florida sexual assault attorneys, we represent survivors as they work their way through the civil justice system. We can also help protect their interests if there is a pending criminal case. We do believe that if someone else’s criminal or negligent actions caused you physical injury, pain and suffering and mental anguish, they should be accountable for it.

We fully recognize that no amount of money is going to erase the awful realities of what happened. But damages can help to offset the cost of things like medical bills, trauma counseling and the wages you have lost while trying to piece your life back together. It’s also a measure of justice for the loss of intangible things, such as your mental health and the damage to your personal relationships.

The decision to move forward with civil litigation is a substantial one, and shouldn’t be made lightly. It’s very important that you review the strength of your claim, the potential emotional impact and the best and worst case outcomes. Continue reading

In Florida, as well as in every other state, it is an unlawful civil rights violation for guards or staff to engage in sexual relations with prisoners. In this dynamic, no sexual encounter can be considered consensual because prisoners cannot legally consent to sex with someone who has authority over them. It’s further understood that refusal invites risk of retaliation. jail-300x200

Unfortunately, the reality is sexual assaults occur far too often in prisons. Some callously view it as “part of the punishment,” but that is unequivocally false. As our South Florida sexual assault lawyers can explain, it can be grounds for civil litigation – against the guards, staff and the prison itself. Claims against government agents and agencies are not easy cases, but they can be successful. Accountability in these matters not only brings justice for victims, but helps reduce the chances that future inmates will be preyed upon in the same way.

Recently, the U.S Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division concluded an investigation into the conditions at Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala, Florida, finding reasonable cause of Eighth Amendment violations for failure to protect prisoners from sexual abuse and assault by the staff. This is an express violation of provisions of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act of 1980, a federal statute that protects the civil rights of those in correctional facilities, nursing homes, mental health facilities and institutions for those with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Officials at prisons have a constitutional responsibility to protect prisoners from harm. Prosecutors for the DOJ say that incarcerated women at the Florida prison were frequent victims of sexual abuse by prison staff. Further, women were discouraged from reporting the abuse and some investigations were even handled by the abusers themselves. As reported by Courthouse News, there were numerous documented cases of sexual coercion and rape, as well as reports of daily sexual harassment, groping and actions like watching inmates shower and use the toilet. Threats of solitary confinement or withholding basic necessities reportedly occurred when inmates objected. Some inmates were allegedly beaten and physically assaulted when they objected. Continue reading

A judge in California recently fined rideshare giant Uber nearly $60 million and threatened to suspend its license to operate in the state if the company refuses to pay the penalty and respond within 30 days to questions regarding the company’s records on sexual assaults.South Florida sexual assault lawyer

As our South Florida civil trial sexual assault lawyers know, a safety report released by the company last year revealed some 6,000 sexual assaults that were reported to Uber in connection with rides between 2017 and 2019.

As a public service provider, Uber and other ridesharing companies undoubtedly have some responsibility to keep customers safe. The extent of this responsibility, though, is part of what is being litigated in hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits across the country. Continue reading

It’s one of the largest child sexual abuse scandals in U.S. history, yet for years, victims were made to feel as if they were the only one. As the deadline looms for filing civil liability claims of sexual assault and abuse against Boy Scouts of America, systemic problems within the youth organization are proving worse than many ever realized. South Florida sexual abuse lawyer

The Scouts filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and protection earlier this year, amid a sharp decline in membership as well as a flood of sexual abuse claims. As our civil trial lawyers can explain, bankruptcy places an automatic hold on all pending lawsuits while global settlements are negotiated. The bankruptcy also compels victims to have their case handled in a single federal bankruptcy court rather than in state courts across the country. It also allows the agency to reorganize and restructure its finances while continuing operation. A trust has been established from which victims of abuse who file civil claims will be able to collect compensation.

Claims filed in bankruptcy court, once vetted, will be paid by Scouts organization (which has more than $1 billion in real estate assets) and/or their insurers through the established trust. We saw this same type of bankruptcy restructuring/trust with the mass torts of asbestos liability. Dozens of Catholic dioceses that had been accused of liability for child sexual abuse have also used it.

Some are predicting that tens of thousands of new claimants will meet this month’s deadline in the Boy Scouts’ bankruptcy case. The Los Angeles Times reports there could be more claims filed in this bankruptcy than in all the previous Catholic Church bankruptcies combined.

Our South Florida sexual abuse attorneys recognize this overwhelming response underscores that the problem of abuse in youth organizations is one that demands greater attention and accountability.

Victims of abuse suffer years with guilt and shame. Some have contracted sexually-transmitted diseases. Many who are now older have wrestled with addiction, alcoholism, anger and difficulty maintaining close relationships. Some victim family members allege the pain was so great, the victims took their own lives. Continue reading

Certain Florida child sexual abuse civil claims will have a much shorter statute of limitations than some appellate courts had previously ruled due to a new decision by the Florida Supreme Court. The case involved a conflict among lower Florida courts about the accrual of civil claims for sexual abuse.West Palm Beach sexual abuse attorneys

Almost every kind of legal action in Florida – whether it’s prosecution for a crime or a civil claim for monetary damages – is subject to a time limit on how long you have to file. For example, most Florida personal injury claims must be filed within four years of the date the injury occurred. For medical malpractice, it’s two years. There are some exceptions, but courts are pretty strict on this.

As our West Palm Beach sexual abuse lawyers can explain, a civil claim usually “accrues” (meaning the clock for the statute of limitations starts ticking) at the time the incident occurs. However, there are some kinds of claims for which the statute of limitations won’t accrue for a delayed period of time. One of those – sometimes – is child sex abuse cases. Continue reading

Many Florida sexual abuse lawsuits stem from a violation of trust by someone in a position of power. Cases in recent years have included coaches, teachers, health care workers, bosses, corrections officers and clergy. South Florida sexual abuse lawsuit

Although a survivor of sexual abuse by any perpetrator may have grounds to claim civil liability damages against that individual, cases with at least one third-party defendant tend to have a higher chance of success in terms of an actual payout. Many third-party defendants in sexual abuse cases are organizations, institutions and agencies that owed a duty to protect the victim – and failed.

One such case recently reported on by The Tampa Bay Times stemmed from a 2018 incident in which a 19-year-old woman was admitted involuntarily to a local hospital under the state’s Baker Act. Because there was concern she might harm herself, her family was not permitted to see her and she was assigned one-one-one mental health evaluation and care. According to the recently-filed Florida sexual abuse lawsuit, that employee sexually groomed and abused the patient over a five-day period. The employee was later fired, arrested and convicted of sexual misconduct. He was sentenced to six years of probation and required to register as a sex offender. Now, both he and his former employer are being sued. Continue reading

Like many other large cities, West Palm Beach has its fair share of criminal activity. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement reports that Palm Beach County’s violent crime rate in 2019 was 390 per 100,000 residents. The good news is that’s a drop of about 5 percent from the year before. However, it includes more than 560 reported rapes and sexual assaults, while only 105 arrests were made for these offenses. What some survivors may not realize is that besides the criminal justice system, there is another avenue of accountability: Civil claims filed against third parties for negligent security.West Palm Beach sexual assault lawyer

Crime statistics have proven invaluable in Florida negligent security lawsuits.

Negligent security is a type of civil premises liability claim filed for injuries resulting from a property owner’s negligence. Survivors of rape and sexual assault may have a negligent security claim if they can prove the property owner owed them a duty of care to protect against third-party attacks and failed to put reasonable security measures in place or warn them of possible danger. Continue reading

Workplace sexual assault, rape, exploitation and harassment are unfortunately too common in South Florida. These can include physical attacks, constant unwelcome sexual advances and requests for sexual favors (quid pro quo).South Florida sexual assault attorney

As West Palm Beach sexual abuse lawyers, we work with sex crime survivors to determine legal remedies in the civil sphere. That means pursuing civil litigation against the abuser personally, but also the people, institutions, businesses and organizations that had a duty to protect the victim – and failed.

These claims are separate from the criminal proceedings, though they may occur simultaneously and sometimes have an impact on each other. Continue reading

An estimated 1 in 6 women in Florida will be victimized by sexual assault at least once in life, while 1 in 5 men will be victimized by some form of sexual violence other than rape. Although survivors can make the decision to report such actions to police, pursuing criminal prosecution is ultimately up to the local state attorney’s office. Even if the prosecutor files charges and secures a conviction, the reality is compensation to the victim in the form of restitution is unlikely to be adequate (if it’s ordered or able to be collected at all).Florida sexual assault lawsuit

But one avenue through which survivors may still obtain justice is civil litigation. As our West Palm Beach civil trial lawyers can explain, the goal of a civil sexual abuse lawsuit isn’t to undo what cannot be undone. Rather, it is to make victims as whole as possible by compensating for physical injuries, disability (time you had to take off work), mental and emotional trauma and even damaged relationships.

And the perpetrator may not be the only one you can hold responsible – even if he or she acted alone. In civil litigation, you’ll want to explore the potential liability of:

  • The owner/controller of the property where the sexual assault happened.
  • The offender’s employer.
  • The school, daycare, sports organization, religious institution, nursing home or hospital that had a duty to protect the victim.
  • Any security firms contracted to keep people safe.

Civil liability against third parties in sexual abuse lawsuits considers the duty of care the defendant owed to protect the plaintiff (victim) and whether the offense was reasonably foreseeable. Did the employer do enough to vet its workers? Did the sports organization overlook years of misconduct by a coach? Did the hotel fail to make sure it had adequate security staff on site to keep guests safe? These are the kinds of things that can result in a finding of third-party liability in Florida sexual assault lawsuits. Continue reading

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