A judge Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit brought against the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles by a member who alleged she was sexually assaulted in a hot tub by a homeless man at the downtown facility in 2015 and sought $1 million in damages.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Laura Seigle granted a defense motion to throw out the entire complaint, finding that the Neri Venegas of South Los Angeles signed a one-page document in November 2014 that waived her chance to sue if she was injured at the facility.
“This release is clear and unambiguous that it covers all negligence claims based on injury occurring on the YMCA premises,” the judge wrote. “Therefore, it covers plaintiffs’ causes of action, including Ortega’s loss of consortium claim …,” Traber wrote.
Venegas’ suit, filed in August 2017, alleged general negligence and negligent hiring and supervision. Her husband, Luis Ortega, also was a plaintiff and alleged loss of consortium.
According to the complaint, Venegas went to the YMCA on Hope Street on Sept. 2, 2015, as part of her daily exercise routine. She entered after her membership card was scanned and went to a hot tub and whirlpool in an area restricted to women.
The complaint alleged the homeless man, despite not being a YMCA member, was granted access by the facility’s front desk employee and, as a result, “was able to gain unfettered access to the restricted women’s only area where (the plaintiff) was present.”
Venegas, seeing the man, yelled “Hey, this area is for women only,” according to her court papers. “Immediately after, (the man) jumped into the hot tub/whirlpool and began to sexually assault and batter (the plaintiff).”
The intruder continued groping the woman despite her pleas to stop, according to the suit, which said Venegas broke free and ran soaking wet to the lobby, where she asked the receptionist for help. The employee called a private security firm that patrolled the area and the man was later arrested by police, according to the plaintiff.
Venegas experienced depression, a fear of men and nightmares afterward, the suit stated. Her financial earning abilities also were impaired, according to her complaint, which further alleged the YMCA employee who allowed the homeless man into the facility was negligent.
Ortega alleged he suffered a loss of affection and sexual relations because of the attack on his wife. The couple was represented by an attorney when they sued, but had represented themselves since April.
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