was in the Multnomah County Courthouse on Friday and Monday to catch key testimony in Portland's most explosive civil trial yet this year: a lawsuit against the ambulance company American Medical Response.
Colorado-based AMR has an exclusive contract to provide ambulance service in Multnomah County. But the company ran into a public-relations nightmare when Lannie Haszard, an EMT with the company for 16 years, pleaded guilty in 2008 to sexually molesting four women on the job.
One of those women, Royshekka Herring, is suing AMR for $5 million.
On Monday, Herring took the stand to say she's still haunted by what happened a year and a half ago in the back of an ambulance when Haszard stuck his hand down her pants.
She said her personal relationships have been affected, but that she came forward and complained to put a stop to Haszard's behavior.
"I pulled away from everyone," Herring said. "I'm doing this for all women."
Two other women allegedly told AMR they were inappropriately touched by Haszard previous to Herring.
However, Randy Lauer, general manager of AMR Northwest, testified Friday that there was no evidence of misconduct, so Haszard stayed in his position.
When pressed by Herring's attorney, Greg Kafoury, Lauer gave a puzzling explanation — saying he "was convinced we had a sexual predator in our midst and didn't know it."
According to Lauer's testimony on Friday August 29, there are "reasonable explanations" for why a patient may be touched on the inner thigh by an EMT during transport to the hospital.
For one, he said, the ambulance ride is "bumpy." Lauer also said the EMT may be touching a patient to comfort her.
Kafoury said his office has contacted 108 women Haszard transported between 2004 and 2007. He said 18 of those women claim they were inappropriately touched.