Tuesday, October 18, 2011
The New Jersey Appellate Division has held that an attorney who sued the chief executive officer of a state psychiatric hospital and others as a result of a physical attack by the attorney's client.
The court concluded that plaintiff/attorney raised "a triable issue of act as to whether defendant affirmatively place plaintiff in a position of danger" and that, because the rights asserted by the plaintiff were not "clearly established at the time time plaintiff was attacked, defendants are entitled to qualified immunity."
The attack took place at Ancora Psyhiatric Hospital. the attorney was employed by the Department of the Public Advocate and was interviewing clients to prepare for court hearings. The client struck the attorney in the face several times, grabbed her hair and "pulled her backwards until her head hit the floor."
The court noted that the hospital was aware of problems with assaults by its patients and did not take reasonable steps to protect potential victims such as the plaintiff here. (Mike Frisch)