Charleston Area Medical Center has settled a lawsuit with a widower who said nurses at the hospital committed sexual misconduct while caring for his wife while she was in a coma after suffering injuries in a car crash in 2017.
The hospital and the plaintiff, who only is identified as W.L. in court documents, reached a settlement for an undisclosed amount, according to an order dismissing the case. Dale Witte, a spokesman for CAMC, said the settlement was confidential and declined to comment on the case.
The parties reached the settlement through mediation earlier this year, Kanawha Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman said in the order filed July 9.
Robert Berthold and Matthew Berthold, with the Berthold Law Firm in Charleston, represented W.L., who was the administrator of his wife’s estate.
Robert Berthold declined to comment on the terms of the settlement Tuesday.
“The matter was resolved in a confidential fashion,” Berthold said. “The family is glad this matter is now resolved.”
The widower filed the lawsuit in March 2018.
He said his wife was at CAMC General Hospital on Oct. 8, 2017, as a priority one trauma patient after a car crash in which she suffered a severe traumatic brain injury and other significant life-threatening injuries, according to the complaint.
She later died from those injuries.
While W.L.’s wife was in the surgical trauma intensive care unit at the hospital, a female employee at the hospital said she witnessed two male nurses discussing his wife’s involuntary muscle flexes and other movements that occurred while she was unconscious.
The female employee said one of the male nurses said, “Want to see something cool?”
That male nurse “rushed over and grabbed [the woman’s] breast and twisted it to the point that her whole body flexed up off of the bed,” according to the complaint.
The female employee said blood came out of W.L.’s mouth, and the men made comments about that fact while laughing following “that horrific event,” according to the complaint.
In his lawsuit, the widower said the male nurses did not obtain consent to perform the acts in question on his wife. He also claimed the male nurses’ conduct was reckless and negligent.
After the female employee reported the incident to supervisors, she was suspended and later fired, according to the lawsuit.
The nurses accused of committing the misconduct were not fired and remained employed at the hospital at the time the lawsuit was filed. Witte wouldn’t say Tuesday if the nurses still were employed at the hospital.