Employer Liable for Death of UF Student

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A civil lawsuit brought about by the parents of Michelle Herndon, a University of Florida student found murdered in her home in November of 2005, alleged that her killer’s former employer was in part responsible for her death.  Her killer, Oliver Travis O’Quinn, was employed by Shands Teaching Hospital and Clinics, Inc. as a surgical nurse at the time of Herndon’s death.  Michelle Herndon died of an overdose of Propofol, Midazolam and Estomidate, anaesthetics available only by prescription that were stolen from the hospital by O’Quinn.  O’Quinn was convicted in 2008 of administering the lethal dose.

A Florida Appellate Court found that Herndon’s death “was a forseeable consequence” because the hospital “fail[ed] to use reasonable care in the hiring and supervision of O’Quinn.”  In its decision, the Court stated that the hospital “knew or should have known of [O’Quinn’s criminal history] had it done a competent background check of O’Quinn.”  A background check would have revealed that O’Quinn’s criminal history included theft of controlled substances.

Had the hospital done its due diligence and conducted a comprehensive background check when hiring O’Quinn, perhaps this tragedy could have been avoided. 

Court Decision: HERNDON v. SHANDS TEACHING HOSPITAL AND CLINICS, INC

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