Decatur doctor facing civil suit wants court to seal parts of the case

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Lawyers representing Morgan County doctor Michael Dick, accused of sexual harrassment, want the courts to seal portions of the case which allege some nurses knew what the doctor was doing and failed to report any of the alleged actions.

An amended complaint says, “There was a nurse, Fictitious Party B, in the room the entire time Dick assaulted Plaintiff Goe. This nurse said nothing and did nothing to prevent or stop the assault.”

Plaintiffs’ attorneys want the identities of the nurses who witnessed the alleged assaults, but did nothing, to be identified and named as additional defendants in the suit.

Dick’s lawyers want this information sealed by the courts because they say, “These nursing staff members are not guilty of involvement in or knowing of the accusations against Dr. Dick.” 

Joel Williams, the attorney representing Dick on Wednesday, says in court documents, “This case has been subject to much media publicity, which is likely to continue as the case progresses. As a result of this publicity, the revelation of Fictitious Defendants’ true names would cause them to incur emotional distress and embarrassment due to public perception and criticism of their involvement in this case. Furthermore, the publicity would tarnish the good names of these women and damage both their careers and their personal lives as members of the community.” 

The plaintiff’s’ attorneys argue, “Defendants argue that simply standing by while another woman is sexually assaulted somehow implicates the right to privacy of these individual nurses.  Unlike Plaintiffs, the nurses will not be required to testify or reveal intimate details about their own private lives; they will simply be asked to relate what they saw, when they saw it, and what, if anything, they did in response. Their failure to take appropriate action to stop sexual assault does not “deal with details of their private lives,” but their responsibility to patients under their care as nurses.  No right to privacy is implicated if the details of this lawsuit, which have already been revealed as this lawsuit is a matter of public record, remain of public record in the future.”

They add, “Keeping this file a Public Record is a Service to the Public does not “Pose a Serious Threat of Harassment, Exploitation, Physical Intrusion, or Other Particularized Harm to the Parties.”

Alabama law recognizes the right of parties to file under seal documents that may 1) promote scandal or defamation and/or 2) pose a serious threat of harassment, exploitation, physical intrusion or other particularized harm to the parties of the action. The court may seal the record, or any part thereof, before, during, or after trial provided that one of the above criteria are met. 

Circuit Judge Jennifer Howell did not rule on the matter in Wednesday’s hearing and gave the attorneys 30 days to draft what they think should be addressed in a Protective Order.

Dr. Dick was not present at the hearing.

View copies of the court documents below.

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