Kaiser Doc Took Sexual Liberties, Class Alleges
LOS ANGELES (CN) - A Kaiser doctor took sexual liberties with women under the pretense of examining them, a class alleges in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Three women identified as Sara G., Sally G. and Rozelle H. sued Arturo Vargas, M.D., Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Southern California Permanente Medical Group, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated. The lawsuit alleges fraud, sexual battery, gender related violence, sexual harassment in a defined relationship, unlawful business practices, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring, negligent retention, negligent supervision, negligent training, negligence and other civil code violations.
“This tragic case involves the horrific violation of trust by a physician who manipulated his position of power to gain access to women’s bodies so that he could molest and sexually assault them while they were under the false pretense that he was performing a necessary medical examination,” the complaint states.
Sara G. saw Dr. Vargas “with chief complaints of asthma related feelings of illness and shortness of breath. This included complaints of chest pain and feeling like she was unable to breathe,” the complaint states.
Dr. Vargas performed “what may have been an appropriate review of systems and physical examination regarding these complaints,” it states.
Then he “told plaintiff Sara G. that he needed to perform a breast examination. Sara G. laid down, pulled up her shirt and bra, and allowed Arturo Vargas, M.D., access to her breasts. Defendant Arturo Vargas, M.D., placed his hands on both of Sara G.’s breasts and manipulated and pressed on them, including squeezing the nipples with a significant amount of pressure,” the complaint states.
The second plaintiff, Sally G. saw Dr. Vargas for complaints of heavy periods and breast pain, the complaint says. He said he needed to do a vaginal exam to follow up on her pap smear results, although she had an appointment with a nurse practitioner for that the next day, the complaint says.
After undressing in front of Dr. Vargas, Sally G. “laid back on a table with her feet up,” and Dr. Vargas “proceeded to insert multiple fingers into Sally G.’s vagina and probed around in a circular fashion. After a significant amount of probing, defendant Arturo Vargas, M.D., said that he was finished, but did not disclose anything about the results of the purported vaginal examination and left the room,” the complaint states.
Both Sara G. and Sally G. say there was no nurse or chaperone present during these exams.
When Sally G. went to her nurse practitioner appointment the next day, the nurse practitioner said she had to do a vaginal exam, the complaint says. Sally G. said that Dr. Vargas had done one the day before, but the nurse practitioner said there was no record of it, the complaint says.
“Sally G. was upset at having to undergo another vaginal examination, however because defendant Arturo Vargas, M.D., was her doctor, Sally G. still trusted him and did not realize that he had sexually and physically assaulted her,” the complaint states.
Rozelle H. saw Dr. Vargas “with complaints of missed menstrual cycles and to obtain a ‘Plan B’ pill because she had recently had unprotected sex and she believed she might be pregnant,” the complaint states.
Dr. Vargas did a pap smear and vaginal exam with a nurse present, according to the complaint. After Dr. Vargas and the nurse left the room and Rozelle H. put her clothes back on, Dr. Vargas came back and “informed Rozelle H. that he could tell if she had been pregnant and miscarried,” the complaint says.
“He instructed her to take off her pants and he would examine her again. Rozelle H. complied, got undressed from the waist down, and laid down on a table for defendant Arturo Vargas, M.D., to perform a vaginal examination. Arturo Vargas, M.D. inserted multiple fingers into Rozelle H’s vagina and began moving them around, asking twice whether Rozelle H. could ‘feel this.’ Defendant Arturo Vargas, M.D.’s fingers remained inside Rozelle H.’s vagina for a prolonged period of time. When he took his fingers out of her, he announced that she was not pregnant and left the room,” the complaint states.
The women say they did not initially realize they had been assaulted, because of the trust they placed in their doctor.
Sara G., Sally G. and Rozelle H. seek general, special, compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and costs, restitution, civil penalties, equitable and injunctive relief, interest and a jury trial. They are represented by John S. Hinman of Long Beach and Andrew T. Ryan of Century City.