Law360 (October 11, 2023, 6:34 PM EDT) — Massachusetts health care group Mass General Brigham and a rheumatologist were hit Wednesday with a third lawsuit in as many weeks alleging that dozens of female patients were sexually abused during visits with the doctor who has since been fired.
According to the proposed class action filed by Nancy Larsen, Dr. Derrick Todd, a specialist, convinced patients he was providing “primary care” and performing pelvic, breast and rectal examinations “for his own sexual gratification.” The incidents go back to 2011 or earlier, and continued until last summer, according to the complaint filed in Suffolk County Superior Court.
Todd was fired by Brigham and Women’s Hospital at the end of July following an investigation by the hospital, according to the hospital. Todd signed a voluntary agreement not to practice pending an investigation by the Board of Registration in Medicine, which regulates physicians, on Sept. 5, which was accepted by the board two days later.
His attorney, Ingrid Martin of Todd & Weld, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday but released a statement last week to several news organizations in which she said Todd does not believe he engaged in wrongful conduct.
Plaintiff Larsen began seeing Todd in 2020, and over the course of her treatment, was subjected to breast and pelvic exams that were not related to her medical condition, according to the suit.
Larsen’s attorneys at Lubin & Meyer PC said they’ve already signed on dozens of potential class members who described similar behavior by Todd.
In addition to Todd, Brigham and Women’s Hospital Inc. and Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital Inc., the complaint names the hospital’s parent company Mass General Brigham Inc.; practice groups Charles River Medical Associates PC, Brigham and Women’s Physicians Organization Inc. and Mass General Brigham Community Physicians Inc.; several doctors who were in supervisory positions; and 10 “John Or Jane Doe” defendants.
The complaint includes claims of negligence, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, sexual assault and battery, and violation of the state consumer protection law against Todd. It also claims negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress by the hospitals, medical practice groups, supervising doctors and the unidentified defendants.
Dr. Charles Morris, chief medical officer of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, released a statement, saying, “We deeply regret the harm Dr. Todd’s actions have caused our patients and their families. We take our duty to care for our patients and keep them safe extremely seriously.”
Morris said the hospital “immediately” began an internal investigation after receiving two anonymous complaints, placing Todd on leave, and then firing him and notifying the state Department of Public Health, the Board of Registration in Medicine and law enforcement.
Morris also said the hospital has reached out to former patients of Todd and has set up a hotline for patients.
Marianne DiTrani, the plaintiff in a separate case filed Tuesday in the same court, said in a press release that she decided to come forward “because someone must. Nature has taught us there is safety in numbers.”
She said was a patient of Todd’s, seeing him at a Charles River Medical Associates office in Framingham starting in 2022. She alleged Todd asked inappropriate and invasive personal questions about her appearance and sexual history, and convinced her to let him perform breast and gynecological exams.
DiTrani alleged Todd has continued to attempt to contact and harass her through calls and texts.
The first suit against Todd was filed on Sept. 29 in Middlesex County Superior Court on behalf of a plaintiff identified as “Jane Doe,” whose attorney has sought an order impounding the complaint which has been provisionally sealed pending a hearing on Oct. 17, according to the case docket.
DiTrani’s attorneys, Brian Perkins of Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane Conway & Wise LLP and Paula S. Bliss of the Justice Law Collaborative, said in a press release that they seek to hold doctors, hospitals and medical practices accountable through their lawsuit.
“It is shocking and disgusting that a doctor would use his position of authority and trust to prey on his patients, but what’s even more stunning is that this could happen at such a world-renowned hospital,” Perkins said in the press release.
“This should be a wake-up call for hospitals and patients alike,” said Bliss. “Because of the unique relationship between medical professionals and their patients, we especially must hold doctors and medical institutions accountable to get justice for these survivors and to help prevent sexual predators from assaulting unsuspecting patients in the future.”
Larsen is represented by Andrew C. Meyer Jr. and William J. Thompson of Lubin & Meyer PC.
DiTrani is represented by Paula S. Bliss and Kimberly Dougherty of Justice Law Collaborative LLC, and Brian J. Perkins of Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane Conway & Wise LLP.
Jane Doe is represented by Stacey Pietrowicz of Sugarman & Sugarman PC.
Todd is represented by Ingrid S. Martin of Todd & Weld LLP.
Counsel information for the hospitals was not available.
The cases are Larsen v. Todd et al., case number 2384CV02299, and DiTrani v. Todd et al., case number 2384CV02287, both in the Suffolk County Superior Court of Massachusetts, and Doe v. Todd et al., case number 2381CV02759, in the Middlesex County Superior Court of Massachusetts.
Source: Law360 October 11 2023