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The Cost of Not Doing Background Checks

Manor Park Nursing Home in Texas failed to do a criminal background check of an employee who later sexually assaulted a resident of the nursing home. The jury awarded the plaintiff $1.1 million.

November 2, 2001
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The result of not doing a background screening could be theft, embezzlement, a shooting, a sexual assault, or a lawsuit.

In California, plaintiffs suing companies for negligent hiring win about 60 percent of the time, says employment-law attorney Patti White, a partner in the San Jose office of Littler Mendelson. In 2000, the average verdict in losing such a case was $870,390, says Barry J. Nadell, president of InfoLink Screening Services.

Nadell and White gave the following specific examples of the cost of doing nothing:

  • Trusted Health Resources hired of Jesse L. Rogers in 1991 as an aide in a home health care program, but never conducted a criminal background check and failed to discover Rogers' six larceny-related convictions in Massachusetts. Rogers was later convicted of stabbing to death John Ward, a quadriplegic under his care, and the victim's grandmother. Ward's parents brought suit against Trusted Health, winning compensatory and punitive damages of $26.5 million and sending Trusted Health into bankruptcy.

  • An Oakland civil jury awarded more than $11 million to a woman's husband after she was murdered in 1998 by a carpet cleaner dispatched by America's Best Carpet Care. The man had never undergone the kind of background check that would have uncovered his violent criminal past.

  • Manor Park Nursing Home in Texas failed to do a criminal background check of an employee who later sexually assaulted a resident of the nursing home. The jury awarded the plaintiff $1.1 million.

  • A county in Texas failed to do a background check of a reserve deputy sheriff it had hired. After just a few days on the job, he injured a passenger in a car during a traffic stop. The reserve deputy had a criminal record, including assault and battery, was on probation at the time of the attack, and also had an outstanding arrest warrant. The jury awarded the injured passenger $818,000.

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