United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
R. UNDERHILL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Henry (“Henry”) commenced this action against her
former employer, Bristol Hospital, Inc. (“Bristol
Hospital” or “the Hospital”), after she was
allegedly sexually assaulted by Dr. Olakunle Oluwole
(“Dr. Oluwole”) on June 11, 2011. Fourth Am.
Compl., Doc. No. 128 at ¶¶ 68, 73-75. Henry alleges
that Bristol Hospital was negligent in hiring, retaining, and
supervising Dr. Oluwole while he retained staff privileges at
the Hospital. Id. at ¶¶ 274, 281, 303.
Henry also asserts that Bristol Hospital is vicariously
liable for Dr. Oluwole's alleged sexual misconduct.
Id. at ¶¶ 329-35. Bristol Hospital moves
for summary judgment. See Doc. No. 227. On October
23, 2018, I held a hearing on the Motion for Summary
Judgment, at which I took the motion under advisement. For
the following reasons, Bristol Hospital's Motion for
Summary Judgment is granted in part and
denied in part.
Standard of Review
judgment is appropriate when the record demonstrates that
“there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact
and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986) (plaintiff
must present affirmative evidence in order to defeat a
properly supported motion for summary judgment).
ruling on a summary judgment motion, the court must construe
the facts of record in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party and must resolve all ambiguities and draw all
reasonable inferences against the moving party.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587
(1986); Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S.
144, 158-59 (1970); see also Aldrich v. Randolph Cent.
Sch. Dist., 963 F.2d 520, 523 (2d Cir. 1992) (court is
required to “resolve all ambiguities and draw all
inferences in favor of the nonmoving party”). When a
motion for summary judgment is properly supported by
documentary and testimonial evidence, however, the nonmoving
party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of
the pleadings, but must present sufficient probative evidence
to establish a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986); Colon v.
Coughlin, 58 F.3d 865, 872 (2d Cir. 1995).
when reasonable minds could not differ as to the import of
the evidence is summary judgment proper.” Bryant v.
Maffucci, 923 F.2d 979, 982 (2d Cir. 1991); see
also Suburban Propane v. Proctor Gas, Inc., 953
F.2d 780, 788 (2d Cir. 1992). If the nonmoving party submits
evidence that is “merely colorable, ” or is not
“significantly probative, ” summary judgment may
be granted. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50.
The mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between
the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported
motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be
no genuine issue of material fact. As to materiality, the
substantive law will identify which facts are material. Only
disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit
under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of
summary judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or
unnecessary will not be counted.
Id. at 247-48. To present a “genuine”
issue of material fact, there must be contradictory evidence
“such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for
the non-moving party.” Id. at 248.
nonmoving party has failed to make a sufficient showing on an
essential element of his case with respect to which he has
the burden of proof at trial, then summary judgment is
appropriate. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. In such a
situation, “there can be ‘no genuine issue as to
any material fact,' since a complete failure of proof
concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's
case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.”
Id. at 322-23; accord Goenaga v. March of Dimes
Birth Defects Found., 51 F.3d 14, 18 (2d Cir. 1995)
(movant's burden satisfied if he can point to an absence
of evidence to support an essential element of nonmoving
party's claim). In short, if there is no genuine issue of
material fact, summary judgment may enter. Celotex,
477 U.S. at 323.
was initially hired by Bristol Hospital in August 1986.
Fourth Am. Compl., Doc. No. 128 at ¶ 4. In 2011, she
held the position of “surgical services associate,
” where her duties included “booking surgeries
for surgeons' offices” and “ensuring that
operating rooms were prepared for scheduled surgeries.”
Def's Local Rule 56(a)(1) Stmt., Doc. No. 229 at ¶
2. Dr. Oluwole was employed as a general surgeon by Bristol
Hospital Multi-Specialty Group Inc. (“BHMSG”) on
or about August 17, 2009. Id. at ¶ 4. As a
member of BHMSG, Dr. Oluwole retained staff privileges to
practice at Bristol Hospital. See Pl's Local
Rule 56(a)(2) Stmt., Doc. No. 237-1 at ¶ 4.
March 30, 2011, Henry became Dr. Oluwole's patient.
See id. at ¶ 8. Specifically, Henry consulted
Dr. Oluwole to follow up on a prior lap band procedure she
had undergone in December 2009. Def's Local Rule 56(a)(1)
Stmt., Doc. No. 229 at ¶ 9. On June 11, 2011, Henry
contacted Dr. Oluwole to address pain and discomfort she
experienced after her previous lap band procedure.
Id. at ¶ 10. Upon her arrival to the BHMSG medical
building, Dr. Oluwole instructed Henry to accompany him to
his office so he could retrieve a needle to remove built up
fluids causing Henry discomfort. See Pl's Opp.,
Doc. No. 237 at 6.
alleges that, once she entered Dr. Oluwole's office, he
grabbed her by the arm and attempted to kiss her.
Id. Henry rejected Dr. Oluwole's initial advance
and was instructed to “lay on her back, and unbuckle
her jean pants, so [Dr. Oluwole] could gain access to her
port.” Id. at 6-7. Shortly after Henry removed
her pants, Dr. Oluwole “grabbed [Henry] by the hair and
yanked her head towards his erect and exposed penis.”
Id. at 7. Henry tried to escape but was held down by
Dr. Oluwole who then sexually assaulted her. Id.
After the assault, Henry continued to receive treatment from
Dr. Oluwole who performed a second surgery on Henry in
November 2011. Def's Local Rule 56(a)(1) Stmt., Doc. No.
229 at ¶ 13.
the alleged assault, Dr. Oluwole continued to sexually harass
Henry at Bristol Hospital during normal business hours.
See Pl's Opp., Doc. No. 237 at 7-8; Henry Dep.,
Doc. No. 237-82 at 118. Dr. Oluwole made unsolicited sexual
comments to Henry and would “come by [her] office . . .
and chastise [her]” until September 2012. Henry Dep.,
Doc. No. 237-82 at 118. On one occasion in September 2012,
Henry's daughter stopped by Bristol Hospital to show
Henry her newborn grandson. Id. at 119. When Dr.
Oluwole arrived, he reached for the baby and rubbed his body
against Henry. Id. On another day that month,
Henry states that Dr. Oluwole told her that “she needed
to have sex, so she did not develop cobwebs.” Pl's
Opp., Doc. No. 237 at 8; Henry Dep., Doc. No. 237-82 at 118.
Dr. Oluwole's repeated encounters with Henry made her
feel “very, very uncomfortable.” Henry Dep., Doc.
No. 237-82 at 119.
September 14, 2012, Henry reported the June 11, 2011 incident
to her boss, Lynne Ramer. See Def's Local Rule
56(a)(1) Stmt., Doc. No. 229 at ¶ 21; Ex. 38 to Pl's
Opp., Doc. No. 237-42 at 3. Later that day, Human Resources
commenced an investigation into the allegations and suspended
Dr. Oluwole pending the outcome. Def's Local Rule
56(a)(1) Stmt., Doc. No. 229 at ¶ 22-23; Ex. 38 to
Pl's Opp., Doc. No. 237-42 at 3. Dr. Oluwole denied the
assault but did admit having an “uncomfortable intimate
incident” with Henry where “he kiss[ed] and
fondl[ed]” her. Ex. 12 to Pl's Opp., Doc. No.
237-14 at 3. BHMSG terminated Dr. Oluwole with
“cause” on October 2, 2012, due to his admission
of an inappropriate encounter with Henry. Id.
filed the current action on June 10, 2013, alleging fifteen
counts against Bristol Hospital and Dr. Oluwole to recover
compensatory and punitive damages stemming from Dr.
Oluwole's alleged sexual misconduct. See Compl.,
Doc. No.1 at ¶¶ 31-132. Henry never served Bristol
Hospital with the original complaint. Def's Br., Doc. No.
228 at 12. Instead, Henry filed her First Amended Complaint
(doc. no. 8) on September 9, 2013, which was served on
Bristol Hospital on November 11, 2013. Id. In the
First Amended Complaint, Henry brought claims against Bristol
Hospital for Title VII sexual harassment, false imprisonment,
negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress,
negligent hiring, and negligence. Id. at 5-6. After
several motions for leave to amend, Henry filed a Fourth
Amended Complaint on August 20, 2015, which is now the
operative pleading. See generally Fourth Am. Compl.,
Doc. No. 128.
Fourth Amended Complaint, Henry asserts claims against
Bristol Hospital for: (1) Title VII sexual harassment (Count
One), (2) intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count
Eleven), (3) negligent infliction of emotional distress
(Count Twelve), (4) negligent hiring, retention and
supervision (Counts Thirteen and Fourteen), (5) negligence
(Count Fifteen), and (6) negligence through an agent or
supervisor (Count Sixteen).
April 12, 2016, Bristol Hospital moved to dismiss Counts One
(Title VII sexual harassment), Eleven (intentional infliction
of emotional distress) and Twelve (negligent infliction of
emotional distress) of the Fourth Amended Complaint.
Def's Mot. to Dismiss, Doc. No. 140. United States
District Judge Alfred V. Covello granted Bristol
Hospital's motion and dismissed Counts One, Eleven and
Twelve against Bristol Hospital. See Mot. to Dismiss
Order, Doc. No.181. Judge Covello also granted Henry's
Motion for Default Judgment against Dr. Oluwole. See
Mot. for Default Order, Doc. No. 103. Thereafter, the case
was transferred to my docket. Bristol Hospital is currently
the only remaining defendant in the case. Henry asserts the
following claims against Bristol Hospital:
Count Thirteen: Negligent hiring, retention
Count Fourteen: Negligent hiring, retention
Count Fifteen: Negligence
Count Sixteen: Negligence through agent or
supervisor Bristol Hospital now moves for summary judgment on
all of Henry's remaining claims.
Henry's Claims Are Tolled Because of the Continuing