Attorney for Plaintiff Who Was Sexually Assaulted at Behavioral Facility Fights Attempt to Have Case Dismissed

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LPR Attorney Caleb Cunningham represents a minor child who was sexually assaulted at Laurel Oaks Behavioral Health Center while he was an 8-year-old resident at the Dothan facility.

Last week, attorneys in the lawsuit against Laurel Oaks Behavioral Health Center; parent company United Health Services (UHS); and Laurel Oaks CEO Jeannette Jackson were in court arguing various matters. The case involves a child who was sexually assaulted at Laurel Oaks while he was an 8-year-old resident at the Dothan facility.

Defendants have requested the Houston County Circuit Court dismiss the case against CEO Jeannette Jackson and Laurel Oaks, who are named Defendants in the lawsuit. The Defendants’ attorneys also requested that the court order the Plaintiff to remove the information regarding the previous two sexual assaults that have occurred at Laurel Oaks from Plaintiff’s complaint. Attorneys for UHS, a Fortune 500 company, also requested the court dismiss the case against them. UHS attorneys argued that UHS could not be sued in Alabama as it lacked sufficient contacts with the State.

Attorney J. Caleb Cunningham, with Levin Papantonio Rafferty (LPR) of Pensacola, Florida, represents the minor child. Cunningham filed several documents with the court opposing the Defendants’ dismissal attempt.

“You have a Fortune 500 company saying they have created legal fictions and shouldn’t be held accountable for what they did. You have the other defendants trying to hide behind a law designed to protect doctors providing medical care. At the end of the day, we have an 8-year-old child who suffered as the latest sexual victim at this facility,” Cunningham said.

Evidence of Links Between Laurel Oaks and UHS

Cunningham’s opposition brief recounted several connections between UHS and Laurel Oaks:

  • The CEO of Laurel Oaks is using an email domain with UHS.
  • UHS provides all the compliance information on Laurel Oaks website.
  • The design of Laurel Oaks’ website shares similarities with the design of websites for other properties owned by UHS.
  • The President and Secretary of Laurel Oaks are high ranking officials with UHS, according to court reports from the Secretary of State of Alabama.

Inappropriate Application of Medical Liability Act

Cunningham also commented on Laurel Oaks’ and CEO Jeannette Jackson’s argument that the Medical Liability Act should prevent the attorneys from discussing the previous sexual assaults at the facility.

“People have a right to know about the failures at this facility. How can anyone understand the preventable nature of this event if they don’t understand what has happened there before?” Cunningham said. “This child wasn’t injured while a doctor was operating on him or he was being given medical care. He was sexually abused in his room at night.”

The court has taken the motions under advisement and will render its decision in the future.

UHS, a Fortune 500 Company, owns and operates Laurel Oaks. UHS is one of the largest companies operating these facilities across the country. Its website says it treated 3.2 million people last year, earning more than $12 billion in revenues.