Appeal from the Judgment of the Court of Common Pleas, Delaware County, Civil Division, at No. 83-149.
Peter C. Gardner, Philadelphia, for appellants.
Allan H. Starr, Philadelphia, for appellee.
Brosky, Wieand and Beck, JJ.
This is an appeal from the Judgment entered by the trial court denying appellant's post-verdict motions.
Appellants present four (4) issues for our review: (1) whether the trial court erred in ruling that the hospital was liable only for acts of gross negligence; (2) whether the trial court erred in permitting appellee to present evidence regarding the criminal investigation of the alleged rapist and the lack of any prosecution; (3) whether the trial court erred in excluding from evidence the medical records of the alleged rapist together with the incident report prepared following the sexual assault upon Mrs. Farago; and (4) whether the trial court erred in instructing the jury on the issue of "willful negligence" and charging the jury that this, plus evidence of gross negligence, must be found to impose liability upon the hospital.
Upon consideration of the trial court opinion and briefs of counsel, we affirm the decision of the trial court.
The trial court, in its opinion, gave a thorough analysis and discussion of the issues on appeal. Thus, while we will rely upon that court's resolution of appellants' last three issues, we feel that, because of the scarcity of appellate cases on the matter, the issue of appellee's immunity warrants further attention.
Mrs. Farago was voluntarily admitted to the Psychiatric Unit of Sacred Heart General Hospital on October 14, 1982. Mrs. Farago was suffering from chronic schizophrenia at the time of her admission. After evaluation, it was determined that Mrs. Farago did not require any special form of
observation. Routine orders, including hourly checks, were prescribed.
Sometime later, Mrs. Farago entered the Quiet Room, the doors to which always remained unlocked. A male patient was also present in the Quiet Room at that time, and a sexual encounter took place between Mrs. Farago and the male patient. A member of appellee's staff discovered the two patients in the bathroom of the Quiet Room. An incident report was filed; however, no mention was made of sexual intercourse having occurred, as Mrs. Farago never indicated that she had been assaulted by the male patient. It was three days later that Mrs. Farago claimed that she had had sexual intercourse with another patient, and it was not until November 1, 1982 (approximately ...