Real party in interest, the Medical Board of California, ordered that petitioner physician be publicly reprimanded after finding he committed professional misconduct by engaging in sexual relations with a patient. Respondent, the Sacramento County Superior Court, California, denied the physician’s petition for a writ of administrative mandate. The physician filed a petition for writ of mandate, seeking to vacate the trial court’s decision.
The court concluded that substantial evidence of ADA defense attorney supported the trial court’s finding that the physician willingly allowed his patient to fondle or grope an intimate part of his body for a substantial period of time, and that the physician’s conduct constituted an act of “sexual relations” within the meaning of Bus. & Prof. Code, § 726. The Board’s findings were not based on speculation or conjecture, but on reasonable inferences derived from the entire body of evidence in the administrative record. The court rejected the idea that the physician was exempt from discipline under § 726 unless he was the giver and not merely the recipient of sexually intimate contact with his patient. Through § 726, the legislature decided that the only way to stop physicians from engaging in these unethical practices was to ban any act of sexual abuse, misconduct, or relations between physician and patient. The idea that a physician could, with legal impunity, receive sexual favors from a patient as long as the physician does not return them would create a loophole in the statute that the legislature could neither have imagined nor intended.
The physician’s petition for a writ of mandate was denied.
Appellant insurer sought review of a judgment entered by the Superior Court of San Diego County (California), in favor of respondent insureds for punitive damages and attorney fees and costs on their breach of contract and bad faith claims against appellant for refusal to pay a claim.
Respondent insureds brought an action against appellant insurer in which they contended that appellant’s refusal to pay a claim on their homeowners policy was both a breach of contract and in bad faith. The trial court entered a judgment in favor of respondents. The court reversed the award of punitive damages. It reversed and remanded on the issue of attorney fees and costs, and it affirmed in all other respects. The court reasoned that there was sufficient evidence from which a jury could have concluded that a reasonable insured would not have known of the loss more than one year before the action was filed. The court also held that a jury could find that both the handling and the denial of the claim were unreasonable and in bad faith. The court reversed the punitive damages award because respondents failed to show appellant’s financial condition and because there was no showing that appellant acted with the intent to vex, injure, or annoy in denying respondents’ claim.
The court reversed the trial court’s award of punitive damages to respondent insureds because they failed to show that appellant insurer acted with intent to vex, injure, or annoy in denying their claim. It reversed and remanded on the issue of costs and attorney fees, and it affirmed the trial court’s judgment in favor of respondents in all other respects, because there was sufficient evidence to support the jury’s verdict.