Women File Class-Action Lawsuit Against Sharp Grossmont Hospital Alleging Use of Illegal Hidden Cameras
Class-action lawsuit seeks to represent hundreds of women videotaped during surgical procedures without their consent
SAN DIEGO – Sharp Grossmont Hospital is facing a class-action lawsuit for its alleged use of hidden cameras in the operating rooms of its Women’s Health Center, according to attorneys at Hagens Berman representing a proposed class of thousands of female patients who were videotaped without their consent during surgical procedures.
The same law firm represents a class of women against Harvey Weinstein, and also recently achieved a pending settlement on behalf of female students and alumnae of the University of Southern California who were sexually harassed and abused at USC Student Health Center by its former gynecologist, Dr. George Tyndall.
According to recent investigations, Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, Calif. secretly videotaped more than 1,800 women, who were “unconscious, undressed on operating room tables, undergoing medical procedures” and captured in more than 6,966 video clips. The hidden cameras were installed on or about July 17, 2012 in all three operating rooms of the Women’s Health Center. The cameras operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week until June 30, 2013.
The lawsuit, filed Apr. 17, 2019, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California states the hospital did not obtain patients’ consent to record any of the footage, which includes caesarean births, birth complications, dilatation and curettage to resolve miscarriages, hysterectomies, sterilizations and other medical procedures.
The suit’s named plaintiff gave birth at the hospital by caesarean section during the timeframe the cameras were in the operating room at Women’s Health Center at Sharp Grossmont Hospital. The suit states, “Plaintiff did not consent and would not have consented to being recorded during this procedure, has suffered severe emotional distress upon learning of this gross invasion of privacy, and has been damaged as a result of Defendants’ actions.”
“In a further breach of trust and duty, after the recordings were completed, Sharp stored the files on computers accessible by multiple users, some without password protection,” the suit states. “Sharp also allegedly destroyed some recordings, but has not confirmed when or how it deleted the files, whether anyone took the files, or whether the files are nonetheless recoverable.”
The lawsuit brings various charges against Sharp Grossmont Hospital including invasion of privacy; gross negligence; intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress; negligent failure to warn, train or educate; and violation of California penal codes related to videotaping and recording.
“These patients suffered a severe breach of their basic rights to privacy and respect at a time when they were at their most vulnerable – seeking medical attention and likely unconscious during a serious surgical procedure. The hospital’s use of cameras is a gross invasion of privacy and shameful behavior,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman.
“Physicians swear to an oath when they pursue a role as a trusted caretaker in our communities and hospitals: They promise to ‘respect the privacy of my patients’ and ‘respect a patient’s right to confidentiality,’” Berman added. “We believe this conduct falls well below the standard set by the Hippocratic Oath, and below basic core human tenets of respect and dignity. We intend to fight aggressively for the rights of women who were secretly filmed.”
An Investigation Reveals the Hidden Cameras
According to the lawsuit, the hospital claims it installed the cameras to catch a suspected doctor stealing drugs from the operating rooms, but the hospital admitted that it knew the film would not be enough to confront the suspected doctor. The existence of the recordings only became known to a limited number of people when the Medical Board of California began an investigation of the suspected doctor in 2015.
Shortly after installing the cameras, the hospital’s then-Director of Security told its then-CEO the video evidence was not sufficient to confront the suspected doctor. However, the CEO instructed the Director of Security to continue taking the videos.
“The hospital kept the hidden cameras running for several months after it concluded its investigation of the suspected doctor,” Berman said. “Unquestionably, Sharp Grossmont must be held accountable.”
Recent news headlines have brought these heinous acts to the forefront, and many victims have bravely stepped forward to tell their stories. Hagens Berman continues this fight, working to help achieve justice for those who have been victim to sexual violation, and enforce systemic change. Tell us about your case.
# # #
About Hagens Berman
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights class-action law firm with nine offices across the country. The firm’s tenacious drive for plaintiffs’ rights has earned it numerous national accolades, awards and titles of “Most Feared Plaintiff’s Firm,” and MVPs and Trailblazers of class-action law. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.
Hagens Berman purchases advertisements on search engines, social media sites and other websites. Transmission of the information contained or available through this website is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. If you seek legal advice or representation by Hagens Berman, you must first enter a formal agreement. All information contained in any transmission is confidential and Hagens Berman agrees to protect information against unauthorized use, publication or disclosure. This site is regulated by the Washington Rules of Professional Conduct.