Judge approves $15m settlement in case of incapacitated woman

Judge approves $15m settlement in case of incapacitated woman
Agreement reached in case of vulnerable adult – but insurer for health worker argues against paying

A judge has approved a $15m (£10m) settlement in a case involving an incapacitated woman who was raped before giving birth.

The settlement was made on behalf of Dr Phillip Gear, who worked at Hacienda Healthcare in Phoenix, Arizona, when the 29-year-old woman had lived since the age of three.

In a lawsuit against the state and Hacienda, her family alleged that the incapacitated woman was “violently and repeatedly raped” and that it failed to notice signs of her pregnancy, including weight gain, NBC News reported.

Hacienda also allegedly ignored requests for the woman to be tended to by female health workers, which it failed to do.

After the birth was reported in December 2018, investigations found that there were signs she had been pregnant and given birth before. Her body also had cuts that were healed.

A former worker at Hacienda, Nathan Sutherland, was arrested for sexual assault but has pleaded not guilty to charges.

Investigators found that DNA from Nathan Sutherland, who was not a target of the lawsuit, matched with that of the woman’s baby son.

The settlement, which a judge ruled was reasonable last week, is the biggest publicly known settlement reached over the attack on the woman.

Dr Phillip’s insurer reportedly died late last year, and argued in court papers that it has no obligation to pay the amount, arguing the doctor’s policy didn’t cover claims arising from a sexual act.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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