Lawsuit Filed Against Lakeside Medical Center in Palm Beach County for Sexual Misconduct

Michael Wheatley Palm Beach EMT

On December 16, 2021, Horowitz Law filed a lawsuit in Palm Beach County Circuit Court against Lakeside Medical Center due to sexual misconduct by an emergency medical technician, Michael Wheatley, while on duty at the hospital.  Lakeside Medical Center is located at 39200 Hooker Hwy, Belle Glade, FL 33430. Michael Wheatley received his  EMT license with the Department of Health in 2001.

Allegations in the Complaint

According to the client, on January 5, 2018, he was admitted at Lakeside Medical Center due to numbness of the neck and symptoms of a stroke. 

The victim reported to the hospital that he was sexually assaulted by the EMT on duty, Michael Wheatley. He stated that he went to the emergency room due to numbness in his neck and shoulders and was treated by Wheatley, who held himself out to be a nurse. The victim stated that Wheatley was dressed in scrubs and entered the victim’s treatment room. Wheatley began making small talk, saying they had the same birthday and asking questions regarding his medical history. Wheatley requested the patient to take his shirt off, and Wheatley began massaging the patient’s stomach and then back. Assuming this was just part of the assessment, he obliged. Wheatley then told the patient his back felt tight and that he should come to his house some time for a proper massage. The victim replied with “excuse me?’ and Wheatly explained it was one of his specialties. He then told the victim to lay face down on the bed with his arms out and eyes closed. Wheatly then slid the patient’s shorts down, exposing his penis. The patient noticed Wheatley staring at his genitals, and he immediately pulled his shorts back up. He then told the patient to go into another room to get hooked up to a heart rate monitor. After a nurse took his vitals, Wheatley entered the room again. He began asking the patient about his use of Viagra and asked personal and inappropriate questions about it and how “hard” it made him. The patient didn’t reply. Wheatley then asked him for a urine sample. The patient felt his shorts get pulled down and Wheatley’s ungloved hand holding his penis to aid in getting him to urinate.

Wheatley was arrested on April 22, 2019 on sexual battery charges. 

Prior to being hired by Lakeside, Wheatley had been accused of sexually assaulting at least one other male at a previous place of employment, a group home in Lantana, Florida. According to media reports, in 2018, Wheatley was accused of raping a teen at the group home 13 years prior.   That investigation began in March 2018 after the Lakeside report was filed against Wheatley. According to police, Wheatley worked as a group counselor at the home and performed oral sex on a 15-year-old boy, then raped him. Wheatley reportedly confessed to the police, saying the allegations made were true and the boy reported it to the facility at the time of the incident. No actions took place then. He was finally arrested after the Lakeside incident.

A reasonable investigation by Lakeside Human Resources into the fitness of Wheatley’s employment history would have involved an adequate background check of Wheatley, including, but not limited to, checking references, employment history, and public records and/or interview of Wheatley and contacting prior employers.  Lakeside breached its duty of care because it knew or should have known that Wheatley had a history of sexual misconduct and/or that he was otherwise unfit to work in an emergency room setting with patients. 

Michael Wheatley’s Current Status

At this time, Michael Wheatley has been arrested twice and charged both times with sexual assault and battery. He pleadd guilty and was sentenced to 5 years probation and is a registered sex offender in Florida.

Get the Help You Need

Finding the right medical provider can be challenging. We seek out seasoned professionals who possess a good bedside manner, compassion, and empathy. When we do finally decide on one, we hope to feel better over time, not be violated by the very person with whom we place our trust. It is both unacceptable and unlawful for a healthcare professional to touch a patient in any sexual manner or practice any sexual misconduct while treating the patient. We also expect hospitals and employees of healthcare professionals to due their background checks and due diligence when hiring staff to treat patients.

All EMT/Paramedics in Florida are licensed by the Florida Department of Health. If your EMT or any healthcare provider makes any sexual contact with you, it violates professional ethics and may be a crime. In addition to reporting misconduct to law enforcement, if this incident occurs in Florida, you can also file a complaint with the Department of Health at this website: https://www.flhealthcomplaint.gov 

Horowitz Law has handled numerous sexual abuse cases involving abuse by healthcare professionals. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted by a physician or at a doctor’s office or hospital, it is important to have experienced legal counsel. We are experienced in handling cases involving sexual assault by doctors and other medical personnel. If you have a been a victim of sexual assault by a doctor in a hospital or medical office, or if you know someone who has, please contact our law firm at (954) 641-2100 or send an email to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com