A Sexual Assault Lawsuit for $1.8 Million Was Recently Thrown Out by a Court

A Sexual Assault Lawsuit for $1.8 Million Was Recently Thrown Out by a CourtA court in Texas recently threw out a woman’s award for punitive damages after she filed a sexual assault lawsuit. Some people may have been shocked by the court’s decision to toss the woman’s compensation out the door, but the reason that they gave for doing this is because the law in Texas does not give these types of damages for criminal acts. However, the good news is that the woman will still receive an award for compensatory damages. Compensatory damages include compensation for economic loss (wages, earning potential, medical expenses) and non-economic loss (pain, suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, scarring and disfigurement, physical impairment and disability, inconvenience).

What exactly happened during this case?

According to Law 360, an appeals court in Texas reversed an award of $1.8 million, which a woman was expected to receive for her sexual assault claim. Three judges who were serving on the panel of the Fourteenth Court of Appeals reversed part of the court’s decision, claiming that Texas law does not award punitive damages for any criminal acts. However, the court has affirmed that the woman will still get a $1.5 million award against a franchisor of a massage chain.

The woman made the claim that Massage Heights Franchising LLC allowed a massage therapist, Mario Rubio, to sexually assault her while she was getting a massage at the facility. The court held that the franchisor “retained control over the means, method, and details of the massages” and therefore can be liable for the acts of the massage therapists who work for the franchise.

However, the massage company disputed the jury’s decision to give both compensatory and punitive damages. In the claim, Massage Heights Franchising argued that punitive damages cannot be awarded for any criminal acts in the state of Texas, according to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code 41.005, which states that “In an action arising from harm resulting from an assault, theft, or other criminal act, a court may not award exemplary damages against a defendant because of the criminal act of another.”

The judges agreed with this code and threw out the woman’s claim that “the punitive damages award was not based on Rubio’s criminal conduct but on the company’s gross negligence.” The jury explained that if malice or negligence was the company’s fault, this would support their decision to still pay exemplary damages. However, the claim stated that “the personal injuries and suffering of damages arose from Rubio’s intentional misconduct.”

The judges ended the hearing with the fact that the woman clearly indicated that “she suffered harm because of Rubio’s criminal act, which was made possible by the negligence of MH Franchising.” The negligence of the company as well as the massage therapist’s criminal acts led to the woman’s harm. Regardless of this, the appeals court concluded with the statement that “MH Franchising owed a duty of reasonable care in connection with the masseuses’ provision of massages to customers.”

The company was negligent in hiring Rubio as he had a criminal history. Therefore, if the company had taken better precaution and did not hire massage therapists with a violent or criminal past, they would have never hired Rubio, allowed him to work in their facility, and the woman would have never been sexually assaulted. As a result, the company was found liable, and the woman was still awarded $1.5 million in compensatory damages.

What’s the difference between punitive and compensatory damages?

Punitive and compensatory damages are very different. While compensatory damages are common, punitive damages are rare. Below, we will explain the main difference between both types of damages.

  • Punitive damages are usually a form of punishment to ensure that the individual or party will never commit the acts again and that no one else will ever be hurt or experience the same harm by the party’s behaviors or actions again.
  • Compensatory damages are provided to the plaintiff to ensure that they are provided justice and compensation for the injuries and losses they have endured. This compensation usually helps the plaintiff rebuild their life again after an accident.

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Hickey Law Firm handles sexual assault cases similar to this woman’s case

Yes. The sexual assault lawyers at Hickey Law Firm have handled various sexual assault cases, including:

  • One of our clients was sexually assaulted, which caused their psychiatric and psychological condition to worsen. As a result, we stood up for them and defended their rights, securing $700,000 in damages.
  • Another one of our clients was sexually assaulted on a cruise ship by a crewmember. We represented the client and made sure their side of the story was clearly and correctly told. In the end, our team was able to reach an outcome of $1.7 million in compensation for them.
  • Our sexual assault attorneys also stepped in and helped out an individual who was sexually battered by a crewmember in their cruise cabin. We aggressively advocated for the individual, obtaining a $9-million award to help them reclaim their life after this terrible incident.

When you suffer a life-threatening or traumatic injury, you need a specialist to guide you through the legal process. The attorneys at Hickey Law Firm are the right specialists for this job. During this tough and complicated time in your life, you can count on John H. (Jack) Hickey, who is Board Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) in Civil Trial and double Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Civil Trial and Admiralty & Maritime Law, to help you navigate the difficulties and challenges that arise from your case. When other attorneys have questions or need advice, Hickey provides various lectures and educational opportunities on the intricacies of the law. Best Lawyers in America even took notice of Attorney Hickey’s impressive background in Medical Malpractice, Admiralty and Maritime Law, and Personal Injury Litigation.

Therefore, if you need immediate legal assistance from a specialist, our team is equipped with the tools and resources to help you. We will do everything we can to fight for you, and you will not owe us anything until we successfully win your case. Call our office in Miami or submit our online contact form for a free and confidential case review today. We serve the entire state of Florida, giving you access to lawyers who care about your injuries and strive to obtain the best results possible for your case.