On July 5, 2023, Horowitz Law filed a lawsuit in St. Lucie County Circuit Court against Treasure Coast Sleep Disorders, LLC, due to sexual misconduct by a medical technician at the facility, Humberto Alejandro Perez Galvez. Treasure Coast Sleep Disorders is located at 188 NW Central Park Plaza, Port St. Lucie, Florida 34986. The lawsuit alleges that the female plaintiff was subjected to sexual assault by the med tech when checked into the facility for an overnight sleep study on April 5, 2022. The accused technician, Huberto Perez Galvez, was arrested the day after the incident and found guilty one year later. Galvez was sentenced to 120 days in jail, one-year probation, community services, restitution, and court costs and fines. He is also ordered to have no contact with the victim or her family. The Plaintiff in the lawsuit is represented by sexual abuse attorneys Adam Horowitz and Elana Goodman of Horowitz Law in Fort Lauderdale.
Allegations in the Complaint
According to the plaintiff, on April 5, 2022, she checked in to Treasure Coast Sleep Disorder Clinic to undergo an overnight sleep study after experiencing sleep disturbances following a car accident. The owner of the clinic, Dr. Christopher Slack, was to perform the study. Upon checking in, she was escorted to her room by Humberto Perez Galvez, the technician on duty. The victim stated Humberto Perez Galvez began flirting with her in the room before she was hooked up to the machine for testing. Perez Galvez asked the victim for her phone number, asked if he could take off his shirt, and asked the victim if he could lie down with her.
As Perez Galvez lay next to the victim, he began asking inappropriate and personal questions and then began touching her breasts. The victim told him to stop. He then lifted her shirt and touched her more, even licking her breasts. He then tried to slip his hand between her legs, but she grabbed it and told him to stop. Perez Galvez then left the room. The victim believed the incident was recorded because the sleep study requires cameras, but it was not turned on yet. She was afraid Galvez would hear if she called the police, so she texted her mother about what happened, and she called the police.
When asked about what occurred, Perez Galvez stated that he believed she wanted it because she was laughing and never said no. He then corroborated her account of the sexual contact. He was arrested on April 6, 2022. He was initially charged with felony sexual battery, but the charges were changed to misdemeanor battery. Perez Galvez did touch and licked the victim’s breast, which ultimately caused the victim emotional distress. It is unacceptable, immoral, and unlawful for any healthcare professional to touch a patient in a sexual manner.
Count 1 Treasure Coast: Negligent Hiring
At the time of the sexual assault, Humberto Galvez was employed at Treasure Coast Sleep Disorder. TREASURE COAST owed a duty to the plaintiff to use reasonable care to ensure her safety, care, health, and well-being while she was submitting to the sleep study at its medical facility.
TREASURE COAST’s duties encompassed using reasonable care in the hiring of healthcare workers at its facility to ensure that they would not pose a threat to the safety, care, health, and well-being of their patients. Specifically, this duty of reasonable care in the hiring of healthcare workers includes confirming past employment and obtaining professional references.
TREASURE COAST breached its duty of reasonable care in the hiring of Mr. Galvez by failing to confirm past employment and/or obtaining professional references. As a direct and proximate cause of the foregoing, the patient was sexually assaulted by Mr. Galvez and has suffered physical, psychological, and emotional injuries, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Count 2 Treasure Coast: Negligent Training
TREASURE COAST’s duties encompassed using reasonable care in the training of healthcare workers at its facility to ensure that they would not pose a threat to the safety, care, health, and well-being of their patients.
TREASURE COAST breached its duty of reasonable care in the training of Mr. Galvez by failing to train him on appropriate boundaries between provider and patient and clearly communicating that sexual contact with patients of the sleep center was strictly prohibited.
Count 3 Treasure Coast: Negligent Supervision
TREASURE COAST’s duties encompassed using reasonable care in the supervision of healthcare workers at its facility to ensure that they would not pose a threat to the safety, care, health, and well-being of their patients.
TREASURE COAST breached its duty of reasonable care in the supervision of Mr. Galvez by allowing him to work alone with female patients during the overnight sleep studies. Further, Mr. Perez was permitted to enter L.G.’s patient room and sleeping quarters while no one else was within its facility and while the sleep study cameras were not recording his activities.
TREASURE COAST breached its duty of reasonable care in the supervision of Mr. Galvez by failing to ensure that he did not engage in sexual activity with patients of the sleep center.
TREASURE COAST breached its duty of reasonable care under the supervision of Mr. Galvez by failing to ensure that Galvez respected the boundaries of appropriate and authorized touch of patients of the sleep center.
TREASURE COAST breached its duty of reasonable care in the supervision of Mr. Galvez by failing to utilize surveillance cameras or other means of electronically monitoring the activity of his activities while alone with sleep study patients.
Count 4 Treasure Coast: Negligent Retention
TREASURE COAST’s duties encompassed using reasonable care in the retention of healthcare workers at its facility to ensure that they would not pose a threat to the safety, care, health, and well-being of their patients.
TREASURE COAST breached its duty of reasonable care in the retention of Mr. Galvez because subsequent to his hiring but prior to the subject sexual assault, TREASURE COAST knew or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known that Mr. Galvez was unfit for the duties assigned, did not exhibit appropriate boundaries with women, did not possess the judgment or temperament to work as a massage therapist, was sexually inappropriate with females, and/or posed a risk of perpetrating unwanted sexual contact on Plaintiff.
Count 5 Treasure Coast: Respondeat Superior/Vicarious Liability
Mr. Galvez was authorized and entrusted by TREASURE COAST to be alone with Plaintiff in sleeping quarters while preparing to undergo a sleep study. The sexual contact described above occurred on a bed in the sleeping quarters provided by TREASURE COAST. The sexual contact described above occurred during the normal business hours of TREASURE COAST and in the course and scope of the performance of Mr. Galvez’s duties. The initial physical contact with Plaintiff was in furtherance of the business of Defendant, TREASURE COAST. Mr. Galvez was authorized to touch Plaintiff via skin-to-skin contact in order to conduct the sleep study. The wrongful sexual acts of Mr. Galvez were committed in the actual or apparent course and scope of his employment or agency with TREASURE COAST when Mr. Galvez extended and converted his authorized touching into sexual contact with Plaintiff.
Attorney Adam Horowitz stated, “A sleep study technician sexually assaulting a patient is a disgusting abuse of power. Sleep study operators have an obligation to make sure their vulnerable patients are safe and not at risk of harm. Our client came to the sleep center for help with sleep problems and left completely traumatized.”
Finding the right medical provider can be challenging. We seek out seasoned professionals who possess a good bedside manner, compassion, and empathy. When we do finally decide on one, we hope to feel better over time, not be violated by the very person with whom we place our trust. It is both unacceptable and unlawful for a healthcare professional to touch a patient in any sexual manner or practice any sexual misconduct while treating the patient. We also expect hospitals and employees of healthcare professionals to do their background checks and due diligence when hiring staff to treat patients.
Horowitz Law has filed numerous sexual misconduct claims against healthcare professionals on behalf of clients who were sexually assaulted at hospitals, private practices, sleep centers, and rehab centers. If you have been a victim of sexual assault or sexual battery while under the care of a healthcare provider, or if you know someone who has, please contact our law firm at (888) 283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at [email protected] for a free consultation.