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Connell v. United States

March 11, 2010

JACQUELINE CONNELL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garland E. Burrell, Jr. United States District Judge

ORDER

A three day bench trial in this Federal Tort Claims Act action against the United States of America ("defendant") concluded on January 14, 2010. The trial concerned plaintiff's claim that her physician subjected her to intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED") by sexually harassing conduct and comments.

I. FINDINGS OF FACT

1. Plaintiff was first seen at Shasta Community Health Center ("SCHC") in December 2001.

2. In January 2006, plaintiff began seeing Dr. Laurence Heard at SCHC for treatment of depression she had following a break up with her boyfriend, who left her on December 25, 2005.

Plaintiff was still being treated for this depression in August 2006.

3. In June 2006, Dr. Heard referred plaintiff to Dr. Frank LiVolsi, a gynecologist and surgeon at SCHC, for evaluation of her uterine fibroids.

4. Subsequently, plaintiff was examined or treated by Dr. LiVolsi eight times during the period of August 2006 through November 2006.

5. Plaintiff's first appointment with Dr. LiVolsi was on August 24, 2006. At the beginning of the appointment, Dr. LiVolsi introduced himself to plaintiff and they shook hands.

6. Dr. LiVolsi, Suzanne Mueller LVN, and medical resident Tawana Nix, were in the room with plaintiff for the entire August 24, 2006 appointment.

7. Plaintiff testified when she first saw Dr. LiVolsi in the examination room he told her she had "real pretty eyes." Dr. LiVolsi was aware of plaintiff's medical history concerning her depression, and was interested in bolstering plaintiff's self-esteem and comforting her. During that appointment, Dr. LiVolsi examined plaintiff, and then allowed medical resident Tawana Nix to examine her. Dr. LiVolsi held plaintiff's hand during Nix's examination of her.

8. Plaintiff went back to see Dr. LiVolsi on September 7, 2006. At that appointment, Dr. LiVolsi recommended that plaintiff have a subtotal hysterectomy, which involves removal of the uterus while preserving and leaving in place the ovaries and cervix. LVN Suzanne Mueller was present during the entire appointment.

9. Plaintiff expressed concern during the September 7, 2006 appointment about not being able to have children. Dr. LiVolsi explained that leaving plaintiff's ovaries and cervix in place could allow for the possibility of using her eggs and a surrogate in the future.

10. At the end of the September 7, 2006 appointment, plaintiff consented to having Dr. LiVolsi perform the ...


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