Psychiatrist settles suit with ex-patient
By Mike Hoyem
February 5, 2005
A south Fort Myers psychiatrist who had a sexual relationship with a former patient – and ended up getting sued for it – has settled the case out of court.
Dr. Neil Pauker was accused of medical malpractice, professional misconduct and intentional infliction of emotional distress in an April 2001 lawsuit filed in Lee Circuit Court by Lynne Rae Olson of Fort Myers.
Olson, 62, was a patient of Pauker’s for several years. The lawsuit said about a year after Pauker stopped treating Olson, the two of them began a romantic relationship and lived together for about 18 months.
Romantic and sexual contact between psychiatrists and their current and former patients is forbidden by the American Psychiatric Association.
Olson claimed that after the two of them broke up, Pauker, 57, began telling his friends about her mental problems.
Court records show Olson and Pauker agreed Jan. 12 to settle the case – which was scheduled for trial Feb. 1 – not long after Lee Circuit Judge Jay B. Rosman made key rulings.
Rosman wrote in a Nov. 2 order he wouldn’t allow a jury to hear allegations Pauker intentionally inflicted emotional distress on Olson.
He wrote that the doctor committed “a shocking violation of the ethics of medical care” but said Pauker’s actions didn’t rise “to the level of outrageous conduct necessary to sustain a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
Rosman also wrote Olson willingly got involved with Pauker and shared her life with him while they lived together.
“Such behavior cannot be first accepted voluntarily and with cooperation and later become the basis for emotional distress,” Rosman wrote.
If the case had gone to trial, a jury could have awarded Olson punitive damages for medical malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty and several other claims.
Olson’s lawyer, Ronald P. Weil of Miami, declined Friday to discuss the case, saying the terms of the settlement prohibit it.
“It’s confidential,” Weil said. “I can only say the lawsuit was settled to the plaintiff’s satisfaction.”
Attorney Lisa J. Augspurger or Orlando represented Pauker. Attorney Aaron Alfano of Tampa represented Pauker and State Farm Insurance.
Neither Augspurger nor Alfano had comment Friday on the settlement.
Pauker – who also had no comment – was reprimanded for his actions in August 2004 by the Florida Board of Medicine and was ordered to pay $5,250 in costs associated with the board’s investigation.