Pink Panties v. Colonoscopy: Office Prank Gone Awry

According to a report from The Huffington Post, a Delaware man has filed suit after waking up from a medical procedure wearing women’s underwear.  The plaintiff, Andrew Walls, claims that surgeons from the Delaware Surgery Center dressed him in pink panties while he was under anesthesia to have a colonoscopy.  According to the complaint filed the the New Hanover (DE) Superior Court:

When the plaintiff recovered from the effects of the anesthesia administered by defendants, he awoke to realize that while he was unconscious pink women’s underwear had been placed on his body.  . . . When the plaintiff initially presented for his colonoscopy he had not been wearing pink women’s underwear and at no time did the plaintiff voluntarily, knowingly or intentionally place the pink women’s underwear upon himself.

Walls was apparently an employee of the medical facility and the underwear switch was a part of an office prank.  Nonetheless, Walls claims that he suffered from severe emotional distress as a result of the 2012 incident which ultimately cost him his job.

We here at Abnormal Use understand how Walls might be angry by the office prank gone wrong.  Even good natured fun can cross the line at times.  However, is waking up in pink panties really lawsuit worthy and, if so, what are his damages?  It would certainly be unnerving to undergo surgery and wake up wearing someone else’s underwear, men’s or women’s.  But, in the context of an office prank, it loses some of its bite. In this case, Wall already subjected himself to having his co-workers conduct the colonoscopy – probably the most humiliating procedure in the book.  How emotionally traumatized can one be over some lacy underwear after that?  We can appreciate the anger, but mental anguish to the point he can’t function on the job is going to be difficult to prove.

With that said, we appreciate the fact that no one wants to be on the wrong end of a prank – particularly during a medical procedure.  Walls has every right to be miffed.  Somewhere in the Hippocratic Oath it states that, co-workers or not, people should trust a medical staff not to dress them up in pink panties during a medical procedure.  However, the legal standard states that it is hard to recover with no damages.

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