Horowitz Law Files Lawsuit Against Family Medical Centers in Jacksonville

by | Dec 15, 2023 | Doctors/Healthcare Providers, Firm News

Lawsuit Against Family Medical Centers Horowitz Law

On December 11, 2023, Horowitz Law filed a sexual abuse lawsuit in the Circuit Court in Duval County against Physicians Group Services d/b/a Family Medical Centers headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. The lawsuit was filed due to an incident in which a patient alleged he was sexually exploited by a female nurse practitioner employed at Physicians Group Services. The Plaintiff in the lawsuit is represented by sexual abuse attorneys Adam Horowitz and Eric Cantor of Horowitz Law in Fort Lauderdale.

Allegations in the Complaint Against Physicians Group Services

According to the complaint filed, on March 16, 2020, the alleged victim visited Physicians Group Services to consult with his primary care physician about a serious physical injury. Upon his arrival, his regular physician was unavailable and instead was seen by Advance Practice Registered Nurse Jessica Volpe for the first time. Plaintiff was treated by Volpe at Physicians Group once in June and three times in July of 2020 and relied on the nurse for his medical diagnosis, treatment, prescription medicine, and treatment plan. Volpe allegedly began texting the patient on his personal cell phone after his first visit with her in March about a prescription. This was the first time the Plaintiff ever got a direct text message from a medical provider.

Within a week, Volpe began sexually exploiting the Plaintiff while he was still her patient according to the Complaint.  The sexual contact between the patient and his healthcare provider reportedly continued for about six months. The sexual encounters included, but were not limited to, daily visits between 5:30 and 6:30 pm when the two would meet to kiss and have sexual intercourse in their vehicles in the parking lot located directly outside of Physicians Group Services. Volpe also sent her patient lewd photos of her bare breasts, buttocks, and vagina. Volpe is alleged to have abused her position of authority over the patient. On the patient’s final visit with Volpe on July 27th, 2020, Volpe reportedly engaged in sexual contact with him onsite at Physicians Group Services during his medical appointment. Volpe is then alleged to have further solicited the Plaintiff to engage in oral sex in lieu of medical treatment. Volpe’s final day of employment at Physicians was August 19, 2020.

The Violation Between a Healthcare Provider and their Patient

Jessica Volpe has been a Advance Practice Registered Nurse in Florida since September 2017 and a Registered Nurse since 2003. On January 4, 2023, Volpe was suspended by the State of Florida Board of Nursing for violating Sections 456.072(1)(v) and 456.063(1), Florida Statues due to her sexual misconduct with the patient and exploiting and the professional relationship, between a healthcare provider and a patient, and inducing or engaging in sexual activity with a patient.

A healthcare professional must never engage in intimate sexual behavior with a person whom she is treating. The patient confided in her about his marital issues and trusted her with his medical treatment. In fact, Volpe’s treatment noted from July 16, 2020, stated that she advised the patient to “remove himself from current living situation ASAP.”

Attorney Adam Horowitz, who represents the victim in this case, said: “Volpe used the insight she gained from her healthcare provider-patient relationship to forge exploitive sexual encounters with her patient who was vulnerable and not in an emotional state to be in such a relationship, much less one involving an imbalance of power.”

Finding the right medical provider can be challenging. We seek out seasoned professionals with good bedside manners, compassion, and empathy.  When we finally decide on one, we hope to feel better over time and not be violated by the very person we trust. Doctors and nurses hold a position of power under Florida law. 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.

Count 1: Physicians Group Failure and Negligence

The Plaintiff sought medical care from a healthcare provider employed by Physicians Group Services in Jacksonville, Florida, where he was treated by APRN Jessica Volpe. Volpe regularly interacted with and provided treatment and counseling to patients, including the Plaintiff.

  • Physicians Group Services failed to provide reasonable care and selection, assignment and supervision of healthcare professionals, ensuring the safety of their patients.
  • Physicians Group had an affirmative duty to exercise reasonable care to promote its patient’s best interests and to protect them from emotionally and sexually exploited conduct by their employees.
  • Physicians Group Services breached this duty by failing to exercise reasonable care to protect Plaintiff from sexual misconduct and lewd and lascivious acts committed by its agent, Ms. Volpe.
  • Physicians Group knew or should have known that their employee Volpe was unfit for the intimate duties assigned as an APRN, had a temperament that rendered her unsuitable to be alone with male clients, had boundary issues with patients, and or posed a risk of sexual misconduct by abusing her position of power, and trust with her patients.
  • Physicians Group Services breached its duty owed to Plaintiff by hiring and retaining Volpe and by failing to properly supervise her.

These acts and omissions by Physicians Group Services constitute a breach of the duty of care.

Count 2: Physicians Group Services Breach of Fiduciary Duty

A fiduciary duty is the legal responsibility to act solely in the best interest of another party. “Fiduciary” means trust, and a person with a fiduciary duty has a legal obligation to maintain that trust. The Plaintiff and Volpe formed a nurse-patient relationship, which was based upon trust and confidence. 

The dynamics of the relationship between health care provider and patient include a power imbalance where the patient is dependent upon the provider’s knowledge and training to provide care. In addition, patients provide personal information and/or allow the healthcare provider to conduct intimate examinations. The transfer of information is one-sided. This was particularly true between Plaintiff and Volpe as Plaintiff shared intimate details about his life with Volpe in connection with his treatment and was extraordinarily reliant upon Volpe’s care and prescriptions for his health at a vulnerable stage in his life. 

  • Volpe formed a fiduciary relationship with Plaintiff in the course and scope of her employment with Physicians Group Services and as an agent, healthcare professional, and counselor of Physicians Group Services
  • Physicians Group Services owed a fiduciary duty to Plaintiff to protect him from abusive conduct by its employees.
  • Physicians Group Services further breached its duty owed to Plaintiff by failing to address the open and obvious undue attention given to him by Volpe and/or by failing to prevent Volpe’s emotional and sexual exploitation and abuse of Plaintiff, which caused physical, psychological, and emotional injuries, mental anguish and the loss of enjoyment of life.

Horowitz Law is seeking compensatory damages, costs, and such other and further relief deemed appropriate by the court for the Plaintiff.

Horowitz Law has filed numerous sexual misconduct claims against medical professionals on behalf of patients who were inappropriately touched in their care.  Under no circumstances is a doctor or nurse permitted to have sexual contact with a patient.  If you have been a victim of sexual assault or sexual battery at a medical office or facility, 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.