State Supreme Court Holds State Owed No Legal Duty to Nursing Home Resident Alleged to Have Been Sexually Assaulted

The Iowa Supreme Court has held that the state owed no legal duty to a nursing home resident who was allegedly sexually assaulted by a convicted sex offender who had been transferred to the nursing home after leaving the state’s civil commitment unit for sex offenders.

Mercedes Gottschalk was a resident of the Pomeroy Care Center, a nursing home.  She was allegedly sexually assaulted by a violent sexual predator who was transferred from a state sex offender unit to this nursing home after receiving an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis.

Gottschalk, and then later her estate, sued the nursing home alleging that it was reckless and negligent in the way the nursing facility cared for her. Pomeroy Care Center filed a cross-claim against the State of Iowa seeking relief. The state moved successfully for summary judgment.  An intermediate appellate court affirmed that decision.

In affirming, the Iowa Supreme Court found that under the Restatement (Third) of Torts §41, an actor in a special relationship with another individual owes a reasonable duty to third parties regarding the risks posed by that person arising within the course of the special relationship.

In this case however, the trial judge — not the state — decided to release the offender from civil confinement and commit him to the nursing home without supervision. Accordingly, the Supreme Court found there was no special relationship upon which to invoke liability under §41 and thus the summary judgment order was proper and affirmed.

Gottschalk v. Pomeroy Care Center, 893 N.W.2d 579 (Iowa 2017).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling nursing home abuse cases, nursing home negligence cases and nursing home injury lawsuits for individuals, families and the loved ones who have been injured, harmed or killed by the negligence of a nursing home for more than 40 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Melrose Park, Alsip, Dolton, Calumet City, Itasca, Villa Park, Highwood, Orland Park, Oak Forest, Crestwood, Burbank, Chicago (Midway, Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square, Uptown, Andersonville, West Ridge, Rogers Park, Sauganash, Edgebrook, Norwood Park, Roscoe Village), Elk Grove Village and Country Club Hills, Ill.

Related blog posts:

$28.5 Million Jury Verdict for Nursing Home’s Failure to Timely Transfer Resident to Hospital

$100,000 Settlement for Nursing Home Resident Whose Bed Sores Went Untreated

$5.2 Million Jury Verdict for Multiple Deaths at Nursing Home