LOS ANGELES – A former employee for an Encino medical firm that specializes in plastic surgery has been identified with her actual name in an amended complaint after a judge ruled this week she could no longer go by “Jane Doe” in future pleadings in her lawsuit alleging a doctor for the corporation kissed her without permission during a 2020 restaurant visit.
The plaintiff is identified as Jasmine Torres in the revised suit brought Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court. A day earlier, Judge Michael L. Stern granted a motion by attorneys for Dr. Maxim Benbassat to strike the use of “Jane Doe” from all future references of the plaintiff in her court papers. Benbassat is a co-defendant in the case with his employer, Encino Surgical Institute, which does business under the name of Beverly Hills Physicians.
In their court papers, Benbassat’s attorneys state that nothing in Torres’ allegations suggested she was threatened with violence and that the alleged unpermitted kiss occurred in public with a co-worker nurse present. The same lawyers also maintain that Torres’ claims against the doctor are “conclusory.”
In their court papers, BHP lawyers deny Torres’ allegations.
Torres was hired in March 2019 as a surgical technician and spent most of her time at the Encino office while working part of the time at the Thousand Oaks facility, according to the suit, which additionally states she took one to two months of medical leave during the summer of 2019 to deal with unrelated mental health issues.
Benbassat, an anesthesiologist, began working at BHP in the spring of 2020 and occasionally took some of the surgical technicians and nurses with him out to eat, such as he did in August 2020 with Torres and a nurse at an Encino restaurant, the suit states.
.After Benbassat paid the bill, he “grabbed plaintiff on her arms near her shoulders, pulled her towards him and kissed plaintiff on the lips,” the suit filed Sept. 9 alleges.
The shocked Torres took two to three seconds to react, at which time she pulled away from the kiss and sat for a moment in silence before saying, “Oh, I still have work today,” and excused herself, the suit states.
Torres told her supervisor what happened and her boss thanked her for the information, according to the suit.
Several days later, Torres confided in a co-worker what Benbassat had allegedly done, the suit states. A day after that, the plaintiff’s supervisor told her that “other people were feeling uncomfortable about the story” and asked if the plaintiff “could just not talk about it anymore,” the suit states.
Torres agreed not to mention the incident further, the suit states.
Despite the alleged forced kiss, Torres was required to work with Benbassat three to four times per week and the physician tried to flirt with her, gave her hugs and made her feel “terribly uncomfortable and anxious,” the suit states.
Disheartened, anxiety-ridden, and depressed, Torres believed BHP was not going to take any action to address her complaint about Benbassat and resigned in August 2020, the suit states.
The plaintiff’s lawsuit allegations include assault, battery, wrongful termination, discrimination, retaliation and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. She seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.