On December 4, 2019, a 15-year-old high school student, now 16, was getting a spinal X-ray at New York Physicians, LLP on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. While the minor was changing in the dressing room designated for patients, she noticed a cell phone recording her, set up on a desk by the practice’s X-ray technician Daniel Pozernick.
When she realized she was being recorded, she was immediately overcome with distress and humiliation, causing her to suffer psychological trauma and seek medical treatment. She has been seeing a therapist and is unable to focus on normal school activities due to stress.
Represented by our firm, her mother is bringing a lawsuit against both Pozernick and his employer, New York Physicians, for their negligence in this matter. Pozernick acted negligently in his professional responsibilities when he betrayed the patient’s trust by secretly recording her, and New York Physicians did so when they did not properly monitor and administer consequences for their employee’s behavior.
Unfortunately, this was not the only time Pozernick secretly filmed minors while they were undressing for appointments. Another minor came forward to Block O’Toole & Murphy attorney Pawel Wierzbicki, who is acting as counsel for the lawsuit, to report that she had been secretly videotaped by Pozernick in 2017, when she was 17 years old. Pozernick was a family friend of the victim. He asked her to come into his work to help him with something; she did not have an appointment at New York Physicians. Pozernick asked her to change so he could perform a bone density test, and secretly recorded her while she was undressed. She did not learn he had recorded her until two years later, when he sent her a letter telling her what he had done. Since then, she has been under serious psychological distress; she was suicidal and has been extremely depressed.
Pozernick was arrested on December 4, 2019 and pled guilty to unlawful surveillance on December 19. He was sentenced to three years conditional discharge and must participate in counseling. This means that Pozernick is not being punished with imprisonment or fines for his crimes; rather, he must meet certain obligations, such as counseling, throughout the three years before the charges are wiped from his record. If he does not meet the conditions, he could be re-sentenced. Currently, there have been no repercussions for his employer, New York Physicians.
Pozernick’s behaviors are criminal and unacceptable. Additionally, his employer is partially at fault because they did not work hard enough to ensure the safety of their patients and the integrity of their employees. It is especially concerning that this happened in a doctor’s office, where patients are supposed to feel safe and be treated with the utmost care. Pozernick and New York Physicians have barely received adequate consequences for the trauma the victims have had to endure. That is why the civil lawsuit being brought claims damages against both Pozernick and his employer for negligence, infliction of emotional distress, and a violation of privacy.
Legally, hospitals or medical practices can be considered partially liable for any negligence committed by an employee. If any employee, whether a nurse, a technician, or other medical professional, does not take reasonable caution while treating the patient, the hospital or employer will likely be found vicariously responsible for any harm the patient experiences. In this case, it is clear that Pozernick not only did not take reasonable care in his work, but completely violated the trust between patient and medical professional.
Additionally, if a hospital or medical practice knowingly employs an incompetent or negligent employee, they can be found liable for any harm that results from the negligent employee’s actions. In the case of the 17-year-old minor, it is unsettling that New York Physicians allowed a non-patient to enter the facility; she did not have a medical reason to be there, and she did not fill out any forms giving record of the appointment Pozernick requested she attend. New York Physicians’ lack of attention to Pozernick’s behavior can certainly be considered negligent. The fact that the practice was either unaware of these incidents or chose to do nothing about them is unacceptable and shows them to be at fault in this case as well.
Block O’Toole & Murphy fights for those who have been victims of negligence or those who have been harmed in any way by someone else’s negligent behavior. If you or someone you know has been a victim of someone else’s negligence, especially at a medical facility, don’t hesitate to contact us and speak with one of our attorneys. We are here to help you. Call us at 212-736-5300 or fill out our contact form.