Negligence lawsuit filed against UMN Fairview

The case alleges the hospital didn't properly protect a 15 year old who was sexually assaulted.

Bella Dally-Steele

A University of Minnesota hospital is facing a lawsuit for failing to protect its patients.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, claims Fairview hospital failed to properly secure a dangerous patient last fall after he sexually assaulted a developmentally disabled 15-year-old, allowing him to return and assault her again.

The victim was staying in the adult emergency department in East Bank after a mental health crisis when Jamal Strong, a 29-year-old patient, entered her room and allegedly assaulted her before hospital employees stopped him, according to the lawsuit.

Hospital workers removed him, but Strong allegedly returned minutes later and continued to assault the girl. Despite being caught on monitored live video feed, the second alleged assault took place for almost half an hour before Strong was stopped.

The victim’s guardian, who was sent home before the incident, was not notified of the attack until hours later.

Jeff Storms, the victim’s attorney, said the family is looking for a two-pronged response from the hospital.

“Obviously we want to see compensation for [the victim], for her suffering from PTSD and other related symptoms,” Storms said. “We also want to see Fairview be held accountable, for them to make meaningful changes and to take responsibility for their actions.”

Camie Melton Hanily, Director of Communications and Public Affairs at Fairview, said the hospital continues to address these concerns.

“Some recent improvements include increasing patient monitoring, ensuring the most appropriate patient placement based on patient needs whenever possible, enhancing how we use video monitoring of patients and improving staff training,” she said in an email Thursday.

Storms said this incident reflects a larger trend at the hospital and policy changes should be made.

“[Fairview] is very aware of the increasing number who appear to be put in jeopardy at the hospital,” Storms said.