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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In 1999, The Methodist Hospital hired Mark Kennerson as a psychiatric technician. Three months after he was hired, D.R., a patient in the psychiatric unit, told the hospital that she had had sex with a person who fit Kennerson’s description. The hospital investigated the claim, but did not take any action against Kennerson after he denied even knowing D.R. During the investigation of the D.R. episode, N.P. became a patient in the unit. On Oct. 22, 1999, while N.P. was being monitored for possible suicide, Kennerson allegedly engaged in sexually explicit conversation with N.P., exposed himself and touched N.P. in a sexual manner. N.P. reported the incident the next day. Later, after an investigation of N.P.’s allegations, the hospital fired Kennerson on Nov. 5, 1999. N.P. sued the hospital on Oct. 17, 2002. She filed a cause of action under the common law, and under Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code �81.003. Section 81.003 deals with exploitation of a mental-health patient by a mental-health services provider. The statute states the provider is liable “to a patient or former patient of the mental health services provider for damages for sexual exploitation if the patient or former patient suffers, directly or indirectly, a physical, mental, or emotional injury caused by, resulting from, or arising out of . . . sexual contact between the patient or former patient and the mental health services provider.” The trial court granted the hospital’s summary judgment motion based on the statute of limitations. On appeal, N.P. concedes that her common-law causes of action were filed beyond the two-year statute of limitations. She claims, however, that her suit was filed within the three-year limitations period of Chapter 81. HOLDING:Affirmed. The court confirms that this is an issue of first impression in Texas. “No court has directly addressed whether employers of mental-health-services providers are subject to the act when they knew or should have known that an employee sexually exploited one patient and subsequently failed to take necessary action to prevent or stop the sexual exploitation of another patient.” The court finds the statute is unambiguous on its face. Thus, construing every word in it under its plain meaning, the court concludes that when the legislature used the word “the” before the phrase “if the patient or former patient is injured,” it meant one patient only. The use of the word “the” relates back to the phrase “a patient or former patient” in the first part of the statute, the court finds. The court says the Legislature easily could have used the word “a” instead of “the” if it wanted to refer to multiple patients. The court finds further support for its position in the legislative history of the provision. “We conclude that the legislative history, which recognizes problematic sexual relationships between mental health providers and their patients, in conjunction with the definition of sexual exploitation, suggest that the Legislature enacted the statute to prevent ongoing sexual relationships between a mental-health-services provider and a particular patient. We further conclude that the act does not apply to a situation, as here, where there was no ongoing sexual exploitation of one patient.” The court additional rules that �81.003 is the exclusive remedy against an employer. The act does not apply to theories respondeat superior or vicarious liability. OPINION:Elsa Alcala, J.; Radack, CJ, Taft and Alcala, JJ.

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