SC appeals court partially reverses dismissal of Upstate rape kit lawsuit

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 11:28 AM EDT
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OCONEE COUNTY, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - The South Carolina Court of Appeals issued a ruling on Wednesday regarding a lawsuit filed by a woman who says the investigation into her sexual assault was closed without charges after an Upstate hospital mishandled her rape kit.

The woman sued Oconee Memorial Hospital in 2017, saying after she was sexually assaulted in Atlanta, Georgia in 2015, she drove back home to the Upstate and had a forensic examination performed by a sexual assault nurse examiner.

After the rape kit was performed, the lawsuit said the nurse who completed the tests was told by the Dekalb County Sheriff’s Office that a deputy would not pick it up, so the victim was told she would have to drive the evidence back to Georgia.

The victim said she was contacted in February 2016 and told that since there was no blood sample included in the box, the case would be closed without charges against her attacker.

The woman sued the hospital for damages, alleging negligence in failure to properly collect and protect evidence, failure to order necessary tests, negligent supervision, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

In July 2018, a judge dismissed the case saying Greenville Health System, which acquired Oconee Memorial in 2014, “owned no duty to Plaintiff in regards to the sexual assault examination kit.” The dismissal order also said, “it is extremely speculative to suggest [her assaulter] would have been prosecuted had the blood sample been in the kit.”

In the week following the dismissal order, the woman filed a motion for the judge to reconsider but it was denied. In August 2018, the case was taken to the South Carolina Court of Appeals.

In the ruling issued Wednesday, the state appeals court affirmed the case being dismissed for allegations of intentional infliction of emotional distress. However, the appeals court reversed the dismissal of the woman’s claims of negligence and remanded the circuit court to allow her an opportunity to amend her complaint, which she says she would like to do.