State Supreme Court Considers Utah OB-GYN Sexual Assault Case

Utah 4th District Judge Robert C. Lunnen dismissed a lawsuit filed by almost 100 women against Provo OB-GYN David H. Broadbent in late September 2022. Dr. Broadbent was accused of allegedly committing sexual assault against those women while they were receiving medical care from him. Now, the Utah Supreme Court is considering whether the case should be considered a sexual assault claim or a medical malpractice suit. The court heard arguments on Friday, October 20th, regarding the Utah OB-GYN sexual assault case, giving the women involved hope of a different outcome this time around.

Court Hears Dr. Broadbent Case Arguments

94 women claimed in a lawsuit that they were sexually assaulted and harassed while getting medical care from Dr. Broadbent. Their lawsuit alleged that he made “insensitive, offensive, and inappropriate remarks — often sexual in nature — performed unnecessary intimate exams, and used his hands to touch them in sensitive areas for his own gratification when not medically necessary,” according to KSL news.

The women were hoping to seek civil damages from Dr. Broadbent and two hospitals where he delivered some of their babies, but a judge dismissed their case last September. He determined they had filed the case incorrectly as a civil sexual assault claim rather than a medical malpractice case.

But the Utah Supreme Court heard arguments on Friday regarding whether or not that judge made an error when he ruled that Utah’s medical malpractice law covers any treatment performed by any health care provider during the patient’s medical care, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Judge Robert Lunnen wrote that Dr. Broadbent was providing health care when the alleged assaults happened. And depending on whether the case is ultimately considered malpractice or a civil sex assault claim is important because a number of Dr. Broadbent’s accusers could lose their chance to sue based on the outcome. Malpractice claims have to be filed within a two-year window of time, and malpractice law could limit the compensation the plaintiffs are entitled to receive for pain and suffering.

Dr. Broadbent’s attorney, Chris Nelson, has said the women’s allegations are “without merit,” but did not offer further comment, according to ProPublica and The Salt Lake Tribune. The Provo OB-GYN agreed to stop practicing while police and prosecutors investigate. 

Supreme Court ‘Seriously Considering’ Broadbent Case

Terry Rooney, an attorney for the 94 women, argued in court that his clients weren’t claiming that they received improper or unnecessary medical care, which would generally fall under medical malpractice. They allege they were assaulted, he stated.

“Sexual assault is sexual assault, whether it happens in a hospital parking lot or in the hospital or in a clinic,” Rooney said, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. “It’s a different act, it’s an intentional act. And it’s the exact opposite of health care.”

April Atwater, one of Dr. Broadbent’s accusers, said the initial ruling was “very upsetting” to her, KSL reported. She noted that the questions asked by the Utah Supreme Court on Friday showed her the justices seemed to be “seriously considering the case,” and made the plaintiffs feel “seen and heard.”

Earlier this year, the Utah legislature passed a law declaring that sexual assault committed in healthcare settings cannot be considered healthcare. However, the law change was not retroactive, so the women involved in the case appealed to Utah’s highest court.

The Utah Supreme Court took the case under advisement and is expected to issue a written decision within the next few months, but gave no timeline for when they would issue a ruling. 

Phillips Law Group Sexual Abuse Attorneys

If you were the victim of sexual assault at the hands of a doctor, or have a loved one who suffered such abuse, there may be legal options Phillips Law Group can help you pursue. Our team of legal professionals will treat your case with sensitivity and discretion and determine what you can do to seek justice. 

If you or a loved one believes you survived this kind of abuse, please don’t hesitate to contact Phillips Law Group to see how we can help. Our Phoenix sexual abuse lawyers are prepared to handle your case and pursue the justice and compensation you deserve.