MEDIA – A neurologist is accused of being more interested in other parts of the female anatomy, as a Lehigh County woman alleges a bizarre encounter at his office the day after the Philadelphia Eagles booked their Super Bowl ticket included him throwing food in her cleavage and making sexually explicit jokes involving oysters.
It all added up to a recent lawsuit against Dr. Bruce Grossinger, his business and other doctors there, though Grossinger counters that one of the woman’s claims fails because the alleged actions only occurred once and her success on the others is “unlikely.”
As the case has gone on, Grossinger's lawyers have even produced two witnesses who say the alleged conduct never happened.
They say her intentional infliction of emotional distress claim can’t reach an “outrageousness” standard because there was only one encounter.
“While the actions of Dr. Bruce Grossinger, if proven accurate, may indeed be considered inappropriate, and Dr. Bruce Grossinger may have been inattentive to Plaintiff’s feelings, Dr. Bruce Grossinger’s actions were hardly outrageous, done with a bad motive, or recklessly indifference to Plaintiff’s rights,” Grossinger’s lawyers wrote Sept. 4.
Valerie Crabbe of Zionsville filed suit in the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas on June 20 versus Dr. Bruce Grossinger, Dr. Steven Grossinger, Dr. Jason Brajer and Grossinger Neuropain Specialists, P.A., all of Eddystone.
Crabbe, 53, says in her complaint that on Jan. 22, she accompanied a man who was to be seen by Bruce Grossinger as a patient for a medical appointment. Crabbe and her friend were escorted to Grossinger’s office, rather than an examination room, by two female assistants, she says.
Crabbe alleges Grossinger made loud, profane remarks about the Philadelphia Eagles earning the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl and made a series of crude jokes about oysters, vaginas and "dykes.”
“We are going to the Super Bowl, bitches!” he allegedly yelled.
“Dr. Bruce Grossinger was then observed making an obscene hand gesture toward the female assistants by placing his fingers in the shape of a ‘V’ over his mouth and sticking his tongue out through his fingers,” the complaint says.
After Grossinger introduced himself to Crabbe and her friend, another female assistant entered the room with a peeled orange, prompting Grossinger to ask Crabbe if she liked oranges, she says.
Crabbe says at that point, Grossinger stood up from his desk, grabbed a slice of the orange and shoved it into her mouth, all to “her shock, concern and against her will.”
Crabbe also alleges Grossinger threw another slice of the orange into her cleavage, adding that after taking a phone call from his wife, Grossinger made passes to her verbally and alternated blowing kisses to her and kissing his own biceps.
According to the plaintiff, Grossinger took another phone call during the appointment, in front of her and her friend, involving the forthcoming Super Bowl and a loan Grossinger made to the caller – at which point, Grossinger allegedly made verbal threats to the debtor on the phone.
Grossinger was also said to have appeared “confused and energized" and asked where to buy a horse’s head. Subsequent to this series of alleged, bizarre behaviors, Crabbe says Grossinger then began recording a brief assessment and diagnosis of her male friend, all the while high-fiving him.
Crabbe states she left Grossinger’s office with her friend in a state of upset, anxiety and fear, as a result of Grossinger’s inappropriate conduct. The next day, Crabbe contacted the attorney who recommended Grossinger to her friend, and told him of Grossinger’s alleged behavior during the visit.
Shortly thereafter, Grossinger called Crabbe to apologize and claimed “he was just making adult jokes and that he and plaintiff were ‘family,' despite the fact they had just met for the first time the previous day,” the complaint says.
Allegedly, Grossinger then repeatedly called Crabbe and left her voicemail messages.
Grossinger says that even if he could be found liable, which his lawyers say is “unlikely,” liability could not be spread to the co-defendants, who are not alleged to have had any contact with Crabbe.
The only claims that are cognizable against him are assault and battery and negligence, Grossinger’s lawyers say.
Crabbe also made the following claims in her lawsuit:
• In 2011, the Delaware Board of Medical Licensure and Disciple, Division of Professional Regulation adopted a Consent Agreement in which Grossinger agreed to pay a $3,000 fine and complete six hours of counseling from a Board-certified psychiatrist, concerning “boundary issues” related to inappropriate sexual conduct with a patient.
• On April 25, 2014, the State Board of Osteopathic Medicine issued a public reprimand of Grossinger in Pennsylvania, based on disciplinary action in Delaware for an inappropriate consensual, physical encounter with a female patient.
• On Jan. 26, 2017, defendants Dr. Steven Grossinger and Dr. Jason Brajer were sanctioned in Delaware for repeated violations of Delaware’s Uniform Controlled Substances Act, resulting from improperly administering pain medications to a patient, a known heroin addict, who died of an overdose.
• In 2017, Delaware’s Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock suspended pain medication prescribing privileges of defendants Dr. Bruce Grossinger, Dr. Steven Grossinger and Dr. Jason Brajer, who found the defendants improperly administered pain medications to a patient with a history of substance abuse. The hearing officer determined that the physicians failed to subject the patient to required drug screenings, failed to properly document pill counts in the patient’s chart and continued to prescribe controlled substances with knowledge that the patient was addicted.
• From a period spanning 2008 to 2018, defendant Dr. Bruce Grossinger engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with multiple patients, received public reprimand, was sued in state court and had notice of said claims by multiple state medical boards.
“Specifically, on Dec. 5, 2017, plaintiff Bruce Grossinger and Grossinger Neuropain Specialists P.A. were sued in the Superior Court for the State of Delaware for assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence," the complaint says.
"The allegations of that complaint stem from a claim that from 2008-2009, defendant Bruce Grossinger engaged in harmful and offensive conduct by forcing his patient, plaintiff ‘Jane Doe’ to engage in sexual intercourse multiple times after office appointments, without plaintiff’s consent.
"Defendant Bruce Grossinger is alleged to have ‘asked plaintiff for a hug, pulled her toward him, put his hand up her shorts and rubbed his face in her chest,'” according to Crabbe’s complaint.
Crabbe alleges that Dr. Steven Grossinger and Dr. Jason Brajer took no steps to protect and prevent the conduct, which she says was foreseeable.
The defendants’ response to the Crabbe lawsuit says all of these allegations have nothing to do with the issues presented.
For counts of assault and battery, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress, the plaintiff is seeking compensatory damages in excess of $50,000, plus punitive damages, attorney’s fees and costs if applicable and such other relief as appears reasonable and just in this matter.
The plaintiff is represented by Jonathan J. James of James Schwartz & Associates, in Philadelphia.
Delaware County Court of Common Pleas case 2018-005869
From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at firstname.lastname@example.org