Geisinger: Suit involving ex-doctor should be moved out of Luzerne County

As it appeared on The Times Leader

By Patrick Kernan

WILKES-BARRE — Move the case out of Luzerne County.

That’s what Geisinger attorneys are requesting in the case of a former Geisinger physician sued after he allegedly sexually assaulted a minor.

The attorneys are also attempting to have certain parts of the lawsuit thrown out, namely those that accuse Geisinger of liability.

Filed in December, the lawsuit alleges Dr. Abraham Joseph Layon sexually assaulted a minor who was part of an educational program he ran at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville.

Since the alleged incident occurred in Danville, that would make Montour County the appropriate venue for the suit, the defense attorneys argue.

But Kingston attorney Ed Ciarimboli, who is representing the plaintiff, filed the suit in Luzerne County as a “neutral venue,” as the alleged incident did not occur here and the victim does not live here.

In their objections, defense attorneys Rafael Villalobos and Alexandra Rogin provided a statement which said a venue of Luzerne County would cause great inconvenience for any Geisinger employees who must testify.

In the statement, David J. Felicio, executive vice president and chief legal officer for Geisinger, said it would require over two-and-a-half hours of travel time from Geisinger in Danville to Wilkes-Barre.

“Requiring this amount of travel time is burdensome for any of these employees, who are responsible for, and involved in, patient care at Geisinger Medical Center,” Felicio said in the statement.

Ciarimboli said Wednesday he expects to file a response to the objections within the next 10 days, adding he anticipates the venue will remain in Luzerne.

‘Scandalous’

In the suit, the girl alleges Layon forced himself on her in a meeting Aug. 15, 2017. Layon “gnawed” on the girl’s ears and forced his tongue down her throat, the filing states.

The lawsuit also alleges Geisinger is vicariously liable, claiming the educational program was run without significant oversight from the hospital.

Last week, Villalobos and Rogin filed a series of objections to the suit, with one asking for the count of vicarious liability to be tossed.

The defense attorneys claim legal precedent prevents an employer from being sued for vicarious liability in cases of alleged sexual assault or molestation by an employee, since this occurs outside the bounds of employment.

The defense attorneys also asked for parts of the lawsuit they call “scandalous and impertinent” stricken from the record.

The suit also claims Layon’s program violated patient-privacy protections, alleging he allowed members of the program to assist in patient care.

But Villalobos and Rogin said these claims are outside the purview of the lawsuit, adding they have “no bearing on the duty of care owed to a non-patient plaintiff.”

Currently, no criminal charges have been filed against Layon.

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