Friday, September 22, 2023
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Doctor Can’t Vacate $3M Award to Abused Patient

(CN) - The Alabama Supreme Court affirmed a $3 million ruling against a doctor who traded prescriptions for addictive drugs for sexual favors from a patient.

B.H. sued Dr. Delane O'Rear and his then employer, Baptist Health Centers, for medical malpractice, negligence, wantonness, assault and the tort of outrage.

B.H. claimed that he had a sexual relationship with O'Rear that began when B.H. was in the eighth grade. O'Rear was the physician for B.H. and his family. The boy contended that every sexual encounter he had with the doctor led to him receiving a prescription.

Family members testified that B.H.'s performance in school and sports declined, and that he became a drug addict who shared Xanax, Tussionex and OxyContin with his half-sister.

B.H. was also convicted in 1998 at the age of 20 of photocopying the prescriptions and trying to fill them at different pharmacies.

He ended the relationship with the doctor in 1999 after secretly recording their last encounter.

O'Rear disputed B.H.'s testimony, stating that the relationship was consensual, only lasted 18 months, and began when B.H. was 20.

The trial court ruled in B.H's favor and ordered the defendants to pay $1 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages. The Alabama Supreme Court agreed with the verdict.

"The evidence of these sexual encounters was such that the jury could have reasonably concluded that they were purely for the purpose of B.H.'s obtaining drugs to support his addiction and Dr. O'Rear's using B.H. for sexual gratification without any connection to medical treatment, " Justice Sue Bell Cobb wrote on behalf of the court.

Cobb added that the $1 million compensatory damage award was not excessive.

"Dr. O'Rear's argument entirely disregards the emotional trauma and harm that is presumed when an adult sexually assaults a minor," Cobb wrote.

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