South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Attack in Nursing Home Falls under Tort Law, Not Medical Malpractice Act

Virginia high court held that a brutal assault on a disabled nursing home patient is governed by tort law, not by the state’s Medical Malpractice Act, as the provision of medical care had nothing to do with the incident in question.

Topic Torts
Key Words

Negligence; Assault; Battery; Nursing Home

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

Alcoy was 79 years old when she suffered a stroke that left her physically helpless and mentally limited. She was moved to a nursing home facility. Four days later, she was brutally sexually assaulted. The assailant was never identified; Alcoy died several months later. Her estate administrator sued the nursing home for negligence, assault and battery. The home responded that the case was governed by the state’s Medical Malpractice Act, and that Act controlled the extent of any liability of the home. The district court held in favor of the home; the administrator appealed.


Reversed and remanded. The issues in this case do not allege omissions involving the provision of health care or professional services within the scope of the Medical Malpractice Act. The issues concern the failure to provide adequate and proper safety in the home, which are issues of tort.


Alcoy v. Valley Nursing Homes, Inc., 272 S.E.2d 301 (Sup. Ct., Va., 2006)

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