TORTS; EVIDENCE – Rape shield rule in claim against psychiatric hospital for rape by orderly: Ten Broeck Dupont, Inc. (d/b/a Ten Broeck Hospital) v. Artemecia Brooks (SC 5/21/2009)

Ten Broeck Dupont, Inc. (d/b/a Ten Broeck Hospital) v. Artemecia Brooks
2006-SC-000484-DG May 21, 2009

Opinion by Justice Scott. Justice Abramson not sitting.

Patient sued a psychiatric hospital claiming she was raped by an orderly during her in-patient stay. The jury returned a judgment in the patient’s favor for $2,091,000.

The Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded for a new trial. The Court held that the trial court erred when it excluded the patient’s medical records as well as her relevant sexual history under KRE 412 (Kentucky’s Rape Shield Law). The Court ruled that the excluded evidence should have been allowed since it was highly probative of the issues of consent and patient’s injuries. The Court determined that the danger of harm to the patient from admitting the evidence did not outweigh the hospital’s need for the probative value of the evidence. 9 The Court also held that the trial court committed reversible error by failing to include a definition of “rape” in its jury instructions. In so doing, the Court reasoned, the trial court did not require the jury to determine whether the sexual conduct was non-consensual— effectively denying the hospital a defense to the patient’s claims.

Justice Schroder (joined by the Chief Justice) concurred in result only, contending that the patient’s sexual history was not relevant to the issue of her damages.

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