A 37-year-old man is suing Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. and related Kaiser entities, alleging he was sexually abused by one of the health plan’s pediatricians during examinations in the 1990s at its Gardena facility.
The plaintiff is identified only as John Doe in the Torrance Superior Court lawsuit that was filed Thursday. Doe’s allegations include sexual battery, civil rights violations, fraud and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. He seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
“While we do not comment on pending litigation, at Kaiser Permanente, we are committed to maintaining a safe environment for our patients, members and anyone who visits one of our facilities,” Kaiser said in a statement released Sunday.
According to the suit, the plaintiff began getting treatment for complications from type 1 diabetes in September 1996 and continued seeing the same doctor, who was also an endocrinologist, on a monthly basis through 1998.
During each appointment, the doctor performed a physical that included inappropriate touching and there was never a nurse or medical attendant in the room observing, the suit states.
Kaiser had received at least one complaint as of 1985 that the pediatrician had acted inappropriately with another youth, but the information was concealed by the health plan’s employees and the doctor continued to have access to young boys such as the plaintiff, Doe alleges.
By 1992, Kaiser knew the doctor was sexually abusing young patients and so the medical plan’s partners drafted an internal policy memo stating that patients were not to be brought to unoccupied office suites without a family member or a nurse and that all the pediatrician’s examinations were to be done in the presence of a chaperone with all exam room doors remaining locked, the suit states.
However, Doe alleges that Kaiser personnel never discussed the prior complaints of inappropriate sexual touching by the pediatrician or the policy memo and never implemented the proposed changes in it.
Doe has suffered emotional distress as well as past and future medical costs, according to the suit.