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Doe v. Chesapeake Medical Solutions, LLC

United States District Court, D. Maryland

December 2, 2019

JANE DOE, Plaintiff,
v.
CHESAPEAKE MEDICAL SOLUTIONS, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          STEPHANIE A. GALLAGHER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Jane Doe[1] (“Plaintiff”) filed this case against Chesapeake Medical Solutions, LLC (“the YDI LLC”), Chesapeake Medical Solutions, P.A. (“the YDI P.A.”) (together “the YDI Defendants”), and Dr. Walter Gianelle (collectively, “Defendants”), alleging three counts: sexual harassment, medical malpractice, and negligent supervision and retention. ECF 1. Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss and/or for Summary Judgment, ECF 13, along with a Memorandum of Law in support thereof, ECF 13-1 (collectively, “the Motion”). This Court has considered that Motion, along with Plaintiff's Opposition, ECF 17, and Defendants' Reply, ECF 21. No hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons that follow, Defendants' Motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The facts below are derived from Plaintiff's Complaint and accepted as true for the purposes of this Motion. The YDI LLC and the YDI P.A. do business as six urgent care medical facilities on the Eastern Shore known as “Your Doc's In, ” (“YDI”). ECF 1, ¶¶ 5, 6. Dr. Gianelle is a physician and “the highest ranking person, principal, and alter-ego of the YDI organization.” Id. ¶ 7.

         In 2011, YDI hired Plaintiff to manage one of its medical care facilities. Id. ¶ 12. Plaintiff transformed a troubled facility into the most successful YDI branch, and received praise for her performance. Id. In or around 2013, Plaintiff was diagnosed with a “life-threatening” illness requiring extensive treatment, including an organ transplant. Id. ¶ 13. Dr. Gianelle became involved in Plaintiff's care as “a trusted medical advisor and friend to Plaintiff.” Id.

         Beginning in 2015, Dr. Gianelle “began to groom Plaintiff for sex by confiding in her about extremely personal sexual matters not ordinarily shared in a normal employer-employee or a doctor-patient relationship.” Id. ¶ 14. In or around October, 2015, while Plaintiff remained quite ill, Dr. Gianelle “proposed a secret affair with Plaintiff, promising to take care of Plaintiff and to protect her employment at YDI.” Id. ¶ 15. Plaintiff alleges that, because of her illness, she was entirely dependent on Dr. Gianelle for her job and for “important aspects of her local medical care on the Eastern Shore, ” so she “was not in a position to refuse sex” with him. Id. ¶ 16.

         Plaintiff alleges that during the course of her illness, Dr. Gianelle performed health care procedures on her, “sometimes demanding sex as a form of compensation afterwards.” Id. ¶ 17. She cites two incidents of medical care being provided:

On one occasion, Plaintiff suffered a hernia, which Gianelle attempted to repair at YDI's Easton, Maryland clinic. The repair attempt was unsuccessful. Nevertheless, Gianelle demanded that Plaintiff have sexual intercourse with him in the clinic. No record was made of either Plaintiff's patient visit to YDI for the hernia or Gianelle's attempted repair of it. . . .
After that visit, Gianelle also saw Plaintiff at YDI's Easton, Maryland clinic in order to repair Plaintiff's surgical incision that had opened. Even though Plaintiff was still in no physical condition to have sexual intercourse following that procedure, and was still under the surgeon's instructions not to have sexual intercourse, Gianelle nevertheless demanded and received sex in the clinic, as a form of compensation for the procedure.

Id.

         In 2016, another YDI physician fired Plaintiff, without warning. Id. ¶ 18. In 2017, according to Plaintiff's Complaint, Dr. Gianelle arranged for Plaintiff to be rehired into a different position, and then promoted her to a higher-ranking managerial position in July, 2017. Id. Plaintiff alleges that “[s]ex with Gianelle both in and out of the office was a quid pro quo condition of Plaintiff's re-employment and continued employment at YDI.” Id. ¶ 21.

         Plaintiff and Gianelle continued their sexual relationship into December, 2017, when Dr. Gianelle ended the relationship. Id. ¶¶ 18, 20. Plaintiff alleges that even after Dr. Gianelle terminated the affair, he expected her to be complicit in covering up his extramarital affairs from his wife as a condition of continued employment. Id. ¶ 23. Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Gianelle's sexual behavior created a severe and pervasive hostile work environment for her. Id. ¶ 25.

         Plaintiff alleges that her ultimate termination in 2018 was driven by illegal motives, because she had not been subjected to any progressive discipline. Id. ¶ 24. Instead, Dr. Gianelle told her that he approved her termination because she had not complied with his efforts to hide his extramarital affairs from his wife. Id.

         II. LEGAL STANDARDS

         A. Motion to Dismiss

         Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), or, in the alternative, a motion for summary judgment. ECF 13. A defendant is permitted to test the legal sufficiency of a complaint by way of a motion to dismiss. See, e.g., In re Birmingham, 846 F.3d 88, 92 (4th Cir. 2017); Goines v. Valley Cmty. Servs. Bd., 822 F.3d 159, 165-66 (4th Cir. 2016). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion constitutes an assertion by a defendant that, even if the facts alleged by a plaintiff are true, the complaint fails as a matter of law “to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”

         Whether a complaint states a claim for relief is assessed by reference to the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(2), which provides that a complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” The purpose of the rule is to provide the defendants with “fair notice” of the claims and the ...


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