(CN) – A doctor accused of sexually abusing a patient in the late 1960s is protected by the doctrine of charitable immunity, the Massachusetts Court of Appeals ruled.
John Doe No. 4 sued Dr. Melvin D. Levine and Children’s Hospital Medical Center for medical malpractice and negligence, claiming Levine sexually assaulted him while he received psychotherapy from 1967 to 1969. Five other patients have made similar allegations against Levine.
The hospital argued that the doctrine of charitable immunity, in effect at the time, precluded Doe’s claim. Doe countered that he did not learn of his damages until 2006.
The trial court denied the hospital’s motion to dismiss, but Judge Ariane Vuono overturned the decision, ruling that the discovery of the damages in 2006 is not relevant, but the date of the alleged abuse is.
“Doe’s negligence claim arose no later that 1969, which is the year in which he alleges he was last treated by Levine. At the time, the hospital had the benefit of absolute charitable immunity,” Vuono wrote.