The Board of County Commissioners of Dona Ana County: Legal Issue

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s): 17
  • Published: November 2, 2014
Read full document
Text Preview

The legal issue in the case of: Davis v. The Board of County Commissioners of Dona Ana County was Negligent Referral or misrepresentation. (Walsh p 148)   Negligent referral is when a former employer gives a positive recommendation that leads to half-truths with regards to the character of a former employee. Liability may be imposed if the referral leads to foreseeable and considerable risk or harm to a third party. Mesilla Valley Hospital (MVH), a psychiatric hospital in Doña Ana County hired Joseph “Tinie” Herrera as a mental health technician on January 20, 1995.   Prior to his employment with MVH, Herrera was a detention sergeant and classification officer at Doña Ana County Detention Center. According to the plaintiff, Herrera was hired by MVH based on the unqualified favorable recommendations from his former Detention Center Supervisors Frank Steele and Al Mochen, who were the captain and the assistant director, respectfully of the Detention Center.   While employed as a detention officer at the Dona Ana County Detention Center, Joseph Herrera, was accused of unsuitable sexual behavior with female prison inmates and of exchanging favors for sex acts.   Herrera’s supervisor, Frank Steele, investigated the charges and advised Herrera that he would be reprimanded.   Herrera resigned to avoid disciplinary action.   Six days later, Steele wrote a recommendation letter on Herrera’s behalf that portrayed him as an “excellent employee” and told prospective employers:   “I am confident that you would find [Herrera] to be an excellent employee.”   (Walsh, 2010,  p.149).   Al Mochen. The assistant director of the Detention Center also made constructive verbal references for Joseph Herrera.   Plaintiff (Davis) sued the County for negligent misrepresentation alleging that the misinformation provided by the Detention Center employees Frank Steele and Al Mochen, actually caused Herrera to be hired at Messila Valley Hospital and was the cause of Plaintiff (Davis) to be assaulted. The accuracy of these recommendations is the crux of the Plaintiff’s suit against the County (Walsh, 2010) Why does the court conclude that Doña Ana County could be held liable for negligent referral (misrepresentation)?   While employed at the Detention Center, female inmates alleged that Herrera had sexually harassed them. According to a report written by Frank Steele; Joseph “Tinie” Herrera was accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with many female inmates that took on various forms. Reportedly Herrera did received sexual favors from some of the inmates for helping them. While not all the allegations against Herrera could be confirmed, the report concluded that Herrera conduct and performance of duty had been “questionable” and “suspect”. (Walsh, 2010) Upon this allegation Steele gave Herrera a written reprimand also indicating any other complaints of similar nature could lead to termination.  On April 5, 1994 Steele informed Herrera that he intended to seek disciplinary action at a hearing scheduled for April 12, 1994. And on April 08, 1994 Herrera resigned from his duties rather than proceed with the scheduled hearing. Upon his resignation, Herrera asked Steele for a letter of recommendation which Steele obliged. On April 11, 1994 just six days later and after recommending disciplinary action against Herrera; Steele wrote a positive endorsement of Herrera that omitted any references of the reprimand, the subsequent allegations of sexual harassment, the results of the investigation or the recommended discipline. The court concludes that Doña Ana County could be held liable for negligent referral (misrepresentation) because of the positive references.   Herrera acquired a position as a mental health technician at a psychiatric care hospital where he sexually assaulted and physically abused female patient Davis. The former employers...
tracking img