$1 Million Default Judgement for Michigan Jail Prisoner Against Health Care Provider in Sexual Assault
But She Probably Won’t Collect It From the Defunct Provider
by Mark Wilson
On April 1, 2021, a Michigan federal court entered a $1 million default judgement for a woman who was impregnated by another patient while she was detained in a mental healthcare facility.
Felicia Quizel Morgan was a prisoner of Michigan’s Wayne County Jail when she was transferred to a Detroit psychiatric facility operated by Community Healthcare Providers, Inc. (CHCP). While confined there in November 2005, Morgan was raped by another patient, Eric Miles. Morgan later gave birth to a child as a result of the sexual assault, while she was still incarcerated.
CHCP’s Detroit hospital closed in 2006, and in June 2017, Morgan brought federal suit against CHCP, Wayne County and three sheriff’s deputies arising from the 2005 sexual assault. She alleged federal constitutional and state tort claims against all Defendants. CHCP failed to appear and the court clerk made an entry of default on November 1, 2017.
The court found that Morgan’s claims were not barred by the statute of limitations, despite her twelve-year delay in filing suit. Nevertheless, the Court granted summary judgement in favor of all defendants other than CHCP on all claims.
Morgan then moved for a default judgement against CHCP, seeking $1.5 million in non-economic damages. Despite noting that Morgan’s odds of recovery appeared to be remote because CHCP appeared to be defunct, the court granted her motion for default against CHCP on April 1, 2021.
“The court agrees that emotional damages from a single sexual assault can be immense and have lasting effects justifying a high non-economic damages award,” the court acknowledged. “Since Plaintiff has properly obtained entry of a default against Defendant CHCP a large non-economic damages award is appropriate.”
After reviewing the cases that Morgan submitted establishing damage awards between $1 million and $1.8 million, however, Judge Robert Cleland found “that the factual allegations in some of the cases are not directly analogous” and these cases “justify a $1 million damages award—not the $1.5 million requested.” See: Morgan v. Wayne Cty., 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63908 (E.D. Mich.).
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Related legal case
Morgan v. Wayne Cty.
|2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63908 (E.D. Mich.)