CLINTON — A jury trial is set to begin in 2020 for a civil case filed against two groups, including Mercy Medical Center.

Margaret Stafford and John Stafford, through counsel, filed a petition and jury demand in October against Mercy Medical Center, Clinton, Inc., and Apogee Medical Group, Iowa P.C. d/b/a Apogee Physicians. A jury trial is set to begin at 9 a.m. Jan. 6, 2020. The trial is expected to last 10 days. A settlement conference is set for 1:30 p.m. Dec. 5, 2019.

The petition, filed through Attorneys Roxanne Conlin and Kayla Reynolds, alleges violation of Iowa Code Chapter 216.7, denial of public accommodation and sexual harassment, general negligence and premises liability against Mercy Medical Center, Clinton, Inc. The suit alleges failure to properly screen, supervise and discipline and loss of consortium against Mercy Medical Center, Clinton, Inc., and Apogee Medical Group, Iowa P.C., d/b/a Apogee Physicians.

The petition alleges that on Sept. 3, 2016, Margaret Stafford began having issues related to her systemic auto-inflammatory disease and Crohn’s Disease. She went to Mercy Medical Center for treatment and was admitted that evening. The petition states Dr. Kiran R. Pandey was her treating physician. He was an employee of Apogee, which had a contract with Mercy to provide services to Mercy patients.

Pandey allegedly conducted his rounds at 11:30 a.m. and later that day went into Stafford’s room alone, closed the door and closed the curtains. Pandey allegedly told Stafford he “wanted to help her” and then told her it was “time for her examination.”

The petition alleges Pandey touched Stafford inappropriately. Stafford explained to a nurse what had allegedly happened. The nurse allegedly appeared to be shocked and did not seem to know what protocol to follow in that situation, according to the lawsuit. Stafford then asked to speak with someone in administration. A member of the nursing department told Stafford the matter would be given to risk management. Stafford at the time of the petition was filed allegedly had not heard from anyone affiliated with Mercy, its administration or risk management since that time.

The petition states the state’s medical board conducted an investigation and hearing into the matter that spanned several months. Pandey was allegedly still practicing during this time and listed on Mercy’s website as recently as April. Pandey at the conclusion of the State Medical Board hearing was found to have violated the laws and rules of governing the practice of medicine in Iowa and formal disciplinary charges were filed. Pandey responded by surrendering his license.

The petition in alleging general negligence states that Mercy owed Stafford a duty of care “to protect her from reasonably foreseeable harm and to take protective measures to prevent negligence or other tortuous conduct upon its premises or with instrumentalities under its control.”

The petition alleges Mercy was negligent by failing and neglecting to investigate sexual abuse allegations, to remove Pandey from his position as a contract physician at Mercy, to ensure Pandey had no opportunity to assault patients on hospital premises and allowing him to present himself as a trustworthy person due to his position for Mercy as a contract physician and to act all times in a reasonable and prudent manner consistent with State of Iowa standards.

The petition in alleging failure to properly screen, supervise and discipline, states Apogee and Mercy had a duty to protect Stafford from the harmful actions of its employee and/or agent. The petition states Apogee and Mercy did not employ reasonable measures of supervision and discipline to ensure Pandey was performing adequate physician services. The petition states Apogee and Mercy were negligent or reckless in supervising Pandey as a contract physician, providing physician services to Mercy Medical Center patients.

“Defendant Mercy was negligent or reckless is assigning Pandey to a position where he could assault patients in their hospital rooms multiple times per day, and to remain in a position where he was at risk of harming others after his conduct was disclosed,” the petition alleges.

The petition in alleging loss of consortium against Apogee and Mercy states Margaret Stafford is currently married to John Stafford. The petition states John Stafford has been deprived of the love, affection, comfort, services, society, companionship and consortium of Margaret Stafford.

“Wherefore, Plaintiff John Stafford prays for judgement against defendants in an amount that will fully and fairly compensate him for his damages alleged herein, with interest thereon as provided by law, costs of this action and such other relief as the Court deems just and proper.”

Mercy Medical Center, Clinton, Inc., filed an answer to the petition in December through attorneys Gene La Suer and Margaret Hanson. The answer denies the allegation Pandey came back into Margaret Stafford’s room alone, closed the door and closed the curtains. The answer denies Pandey touched Stafford inappropriately. Mercy Medical Center in the answer denies Stafford explained to a nurse what happened. The answer denies Stafford asked to speak with someone in administration. The answer also denies a representative of the nursing department told Stafford the matter would be given to risk management and left Stafford’s room. The answer denies the negligence as alleged by the plaintiffs.

The answer under failure to properly screen, supervise and discipline denies Pandey sexually assaulted Stafford while acting as an employee and/or agent of Apogee and a contract employee and/or agent of Mercy. The answer also denies Stafford suffered and was injured by sexual abuse by Pandey as a direct and proximate result of Apogee and Mercy.

Mercy Medical Center, Clinton, Inc., in its answer submitted multiple affirmative defenses. The answer states the allegations set forth in the petition are allegations outside the scope of employment of a licensed physician under contract and not the responsibility of Mercy. They also allege the petition’s allegations are outside the scope of practice by Pandey and not the responsibility of Mercy. Mercy in the answer alleges they took prompt, remedial action immediately after the allegations were made by the plaintiff and removed Pandey from the hospital. The answer alleges Mercy took all precautions to provide a safe facility and the allegations set forth in the petition were unanticipated actions outside the scope of practice for a physician and not the responsibility of Mercy.

“Defendant asserts that it may have other separate additional defenses of which it is not presently aware and reserves the right to amend its answer to assert such defenses as it becomes apparent,” the answer states.

The answer from Apogee Medical Group, Iowa, P.C., through attorney Desiree Kilburg, submitted multiple affirmative defenses. The answer alleges the petition fails, in whole or in part, to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The answer also alleges the plaintiffs’ claims are barred, in whole or in part, because Margaret Stafford allegedly unreasonably failed to report inappropriate conduct and take advantage of any preventive opportunities provided by Apogee Medical Group or Mercy Medical Center, Clinton, Inc., or to avoid harm otherwise. The answer alleges the claims of the plaintiff are barred, in whole or in part, because Stafford allegedly consented to Pandey’s medical examination, or Pandey reasonably believed he had consent.

“Wherefore, Apogee Medical Group respectfully requests judgment in its favor, requests that plaintiffs’ petition be dismissed with prejudice and requests that Apogee Medical Group be awarded costs, expenses and attorney’s fees expended in defense of this litigation, along with such other relief as the Court deems proper and just,” the answer states.

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