Employee Murdered by Violent Client on the Job

Michael Morgenstern

Written by
— Updated on October 3, 2017

murderThis case takes place in Virginia and involves a young woman who was murdered on the job. She was sent out to perform functions much like a professional social worker but with no education or training in the field. The employer offered services to persons with serious and persistent mental health problems, many of whom had a history of violence. The employer did not do any background checks on its clients and did not obtain medical records. The employer only obtained a name and address and sometimes a diagnosis. This particular person who murdered the young woman had a history of being violent and unstable. He had previously barricaded another employee at his residence. The employer took no action and sent her to the residence anyway with no supervision. On the 4th visit, she was chased down the street and stabbed to death. The plaintiff alleges the employer did not take enough action to ensure the safety of its employees given the violent history of the client.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. What is the procedure for determining if a client has a violent and unstable history?
  • 2. Could this incident and her death have been preventable?

Expert Witness Response E-000443

Protection of the employee is key. I have taught on this subject, focusing on health compliance and employee safety. There are multiple laws and regulations that should have led to the deceased’s protection, and these rules were clearly not followed. I would be happy to review this matter on behalf of the plaintiff . It will be important to assess the guidelines and protocol that the defendant organization had in place prior to this incident to ensure employee safety and patient monitoring. It certainly sounds like they failed to implement appropriate policies for patient monitoring and employee safety in this instance (which suggest that the problem may have been – or continues to be – system wide). This is an issue that is very much within my area of expertise as it is a topic I teach, implement in active practice and believe is fundamental to the success of a community healthcare organization.

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