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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

A class action lawsuit filed in a Colorado Federal Court claims a hospital put thousands of its patients at risk through the negligent hiring of a surgical technologist who potentially exposed them to viruses such as HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C, according to the Denver Post.

The Post reports that the Swedish Medical Center (SMC) in Englewood, Colorado fired Rocky Allen in January of 2016. Allen has since pleaded not guilty after being indicted on two federal counts claiming he was caught stealing a syringe filled with fentanyl from an operating room.

Before the alleged negligent hiring by SMC, Allen was fired from four other hospitals and court-martialed while serving with the Navy in Afghanistan for the theft of fentanyl. Court testimony also revealed he carried an undisclosed bloodborne pathogen, The Post reports.

The lawsuit states: By the time Allen appeared on the doorstep of SMC in August 2015 looking for a job as a surgical technician, all the warning signs of what would later occur at SMC were present. Allen already had been terminated by numerous other hospitals for the exact conduct that has now exposed thousands of SMC patients to an increased risk of bloodborne pathogens.

The class action lawsuit accuses Swedish Medical Center of negligence, negligent hiring, and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and seeks Class status for all individuals who had surgery at the hospital between August 17, 2015 and January 22, 2016 when Allen was an employee.

A copy of the class action lawsuit ANGELICA PORRAS, CATHERINE PECHA, and GARY WOLTER v. SWEDISH MEDICAL CENTER, Case 1:16-cv-00568, is available online at

According to ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by Attorney Lester Rosen, the founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources (ESR), every employer has the obligation to exercise reasonable “duty of care” for the safety of others in the form of “due diligence” when hiring.

Rosen writes: The employer’s duty to exercise due diligence means the employer must consider if a potential new employee represents a risk to others in view of the nature of the job. When an employer fails to exercise due diligence and a person is harmed by an employee, that employer can be sued. The name of the legal action is called “negligent hiring.”

Negligent hiring is the flip side of due diligence. If an employer hires someone who they either knew – or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known – was too dangerous, dishonest, unfit, or unqualified for the position, and it was foreseeable that some sort of injury could happen to someone as a result, then the employer can be sued for negligent hiring.

Understanding how due diligence is associated with liability for negligent hiring is critical for any employer, Rosen says. If the actions of a “bad hire” not suited for a job leads to a negligent hiring lawsuit, then employers must be able show they took appropriate measures of due diligence.

Firms that do not perform due diligence are sitting ducks for negligent hiring litigation, explains Rosen. Employers that implement and follow a Safe Hiring Program (SHP) show due diligence measures that are a powerful legal protection with a very modest price tag attached:

Even if there is a cost involved, employers need to measure the risk of hiring blind with the considerable and near certain risk of litigation and attorney fees stemming from a single bad hiring decision. As the old saying goes, it is a matter of “paying now or paying later.”

ESR Helps Employers Avoid Negligent Hiring Lawsuits

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is a leading global screening firm providing fast, accurate, and compliant background checks that help employers avoid “bad hires” that can lead to negligent hiring lawsuits. ESR is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). To learn more about ESR, visit

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) reminds readers that allegations made in class action lawsuits are not proof that a business violated any law, rule, or regulation.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this web site is for educational purposes only.

© 2016 Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – Making copies or using of any part of the ESR News Blog or ESR website for any purpose other than your own personal use is prohibited unless written authorization is first obtained from ESR.


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