MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A personal injury law firm obtained a $7 million jury verdict against AltaPointe Health in connection to a November 2019 sexual assault case where a “mentally incapacitated” young man was sexually assaulted at BayPointe Children’s Psychiatric Hospital in Mobile, according to a release.
“The jury found that AltaPointe did not meet the standard of care to protect a patient’s rights to be treated in a safe and humane place,” reads the release. “Further, the jury found that AltaPointe did not protect the patient’s rights when it did nothing to report the sexual assault for almost 24 hours after the incident.”
The assault happened in November 2019 “when another minor patients was unsupervised and entered the victim’s room where he remained for over eight minutes behind a locked door.”
According to the release, AltaPointe personnel walked in on the assault and put the victim in a “timeout room” for 18 hours before transferring the victim to a local hospital for a sexual assault nursing examination.
Tobias & Comer Law led the case.
“The jury saw the appalling evidence that was presented and through its verdict found that AltaPointe’s conduct was repulsive,” said attorney Bryan Comer. “AltaPointe breached the standard of care that was required under Alabama law in its callous treatment of our client after he was found being assaulted in his room. This verdict sends a strong message to the community as to the abhorrent way in which AltaPointe treated or vulnerable client and failed to protect their patient.”
A verdict was read in Mobile County Circuit Court after the jury deliberated for two and a half hours. It was a unanimous decision and the victim was awarded $3 million in compensatory damages and $4 million in punitive damages.
“The people of Alabama, and across the country, need to have assurance that their children are safe when seeking much-needed mental health care,” said attorney Lacey Smith. “What happened to our client should never happen to another child in AltaPointe’s care or anyone else’s. The punitive damages in this case were necessary to punish AltaPointe and say this is completely unacceptable in our community or anywhere.”
WKRG reached out to AltaPointe for a statement.
“We sympathize with the patient and their family. This incident, as alleged, is not something any of us would allow to happen. As heartbreaking as these allegations are, we must also recognize that the challenges we face in mental health are vast and complicated. We respectfully disagree with the decision by the jury and will be appealing this verdict.”