Dr. Fabio Ortega and Northshore Sexual Assault Lawsuits

Dr. Fabio Ortega was a prominent OB/GYN at NorthShore University Health System in Chicago, treating thousands of women for decades. In 2021, Dr. Fabio pleaded guilty to criminal sexual abuse of two former patients. Dr. Ortega had been sexually assaulting and abusing female patients for years. Our sex abuse lawyers blame Dr. Ortega… and NorthShore Health System, as we explain below.

A growing number of Dr. Ortega’s former patients are now coming forward and filing sexual abuse lawsuits against the doctor and against NorthShore Health System (now called Endeavor Health).

If you are a victim of Dr. Ortega, we can help.  Call us today at 800-553-8082 or contact us online.


June 22, 2024: Defense lawyers for Dr. Fabio Ortega and the hospitals where he previously worked filed motions to dismiss many of the abuse lawsuits brought by his former patients. They argued that the claims were time-barred under the applicable statute of limitations and statute of repose. However, the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, recently denied those motions. In a seven-page written opinion, the court ruled that the statutes cited by the defense did not apply because they pertained to claims arising out of medical care. The court concluded that the sexual assault claims against Dr. Ortega did not stem from “patient care” and thus were not covered by the statute. Additionally, the court found that there were factual questions regarding whether the statute of limitations was tolled due to fraudulent concealment by the defendants.

May 28, 2024: The Dr. Ortega debacle has led Illinois lawmakers to introduce legislation requiring doctors’ offices and clinics affiliated with hospitals to report patient abuse allegations to the state health department.

The bill aims to address these gaps by ensuring all hospital-affiliated facilities report abuse allegations. The initiative was spurred by cases like Ortega, who faced numerous abuse allegations while practicing at hospital-affiliated clinics.

May 7, 2024: An additional 26 women have initiated lawsuits against former gynecologist Dr. Fabio Ortega and Endeavor Health, accusing the doctor of sexual assault and the health system of failing to protect them. This brings the total to 60 former patients who have now taken legal action against Ortega, Endeavor, and Swedish Hospital where Ortega was previously employed.

The claims against Ortega include allegations of fondling under the pretense of conducting breast exams and making inappropriate sexual comments. Disturbingly, one claim includes Ortega rubbing a patient’s clitoris and licking her leg, while another recounts him making sexually suggestive comments during an examination.

All plaintiffs, filing under the anonymity of “Jane Doe,” accuse Endeavor of institutional failures that led to medically unnecessary and abusive examinations by Ortega.

Give credit to Endeavor. They are not running from it.  While not commenting on specific cases, it has expressed a commitment to reviewing individual claims and reaching supportive resolutions.

Sexual Abuse Claims Against Dr. Fabio Ortega

For a very long time, Dr. Fabio Ortega was viewed as a prominent and respected OB/GYN in the Chicago area. Over a career that spanned several decades, Dr. Ortega treated thousands of women and delivered countless babies.

In 2018, Dr. Ortega was exposed.  He was arrested and charged with criminal sexual assault involving one of his patients. That same year, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation suspended Dr. Otega’s medical license for sexual misconduct with a patient.

In October 2021, Dr. Ortega pleaded guilty to criminal sexual assault charges involving two separate female patients. The sexual assaults occurred in 2016 and 2017. Both women say Dr. Ortega sexually assaulted them during an OB exam. Specifically, the women told investigators that Dr. Ortega asked them highly inappropriate questions during the exam and then touched them inappropriately. He received a (woefully inadequate) 3-year jail sentence and only served one year in jail. But there is now more talk of reopening the investigation because he pled guilty only to claims brought by two women.

The criminal charges against Dr. Ortega prompted many other of his former patients to come forward and admit that they, too, were victimized. This prompted a growing wave of civil sexual abuse lawsuits against Dr. Ortega. His employer, NorthShore Health System, has also been named as a defendant in these civil lawsuits – with good reason, as we explain below.

Allegations Against Dr. Ortega and NorthShore (Endeavor Health/Swedish Hospital)

All of the civil sexual abuse lawsuits against Dr. Ortega and NorthShore make very similar allegations. The lawsuits are alleging that Dr. Ortega asked female patients questions about their sexual fantasies and intimate details about their sex lives. Then Dr. Ortega performed unnecessary breast, genital, and rectal examinations. Dr. Ortega also inserted his fingers into patients’ vaginas to show them “how to locate their ‘g-spot,” with no medical need or purpose. Disgustingly, he is accused of performing most of these acts ungloved.

For its part, NorthShore Health System is being sued under two separate liabilities theories. First, as Dr. Ortega’s employer, NorthShore is being sued under a theory of vicarious liability (or respondeat superior). Holding employers liable under these theories is often challenging, however, with intentional sexual assaults such as this. NorthShore is also being accused of direct negligence for allowing Dr. Ortega to continue working and treating patients even after a criminal investigation had begun into alleged sexual assaults.

The lawsuits also claim that NorthShore and Swedish Hospital (another former employer of Dr. Ortega) should have also been on notice about possible abnormal behavior because of other red flags. For example, the lawsuits claim that Dr. Ortega was ordering an unusually high number of pelvic exams, which should have indicated a pattern of misconduct in the hospitals. Even worse,  the healthcare system failed to safeguard the patients from the doctor, even as it was aware of his ongoing police investigation for a previous patient’s abuse at the time of their consultations.

Story of Two Victims of Many

So, the gist of the lawsuit against NorthShore is not just that Dr. Ortega was an agent of NorthShore.  It is that they were negligent in not taking action or supervising Dr. Ortega properly, even after being aware of his inappropriate behavior towards female patients. They reportedly ignored a complaint from a patient (Patient A) about Ortega’s sexually inappropriate actions and did not do what had to be done to stop it.

It is alleged that NorthShore didn’t investigate further claims of Fabio Ortega’s sexual misconduct. For example, another patient reported that Ortega had misbehaved with her over several years, including making late-night calls, expressing undue personal concern, and making her overly concerned about vaginal infections.

During a postpartum appointment in January 2012, Ortega asked her vile questions about intimate relations with her husband, questioned her about her physical arousal during intimacy, queried if they participated in certain sexual acts, and asked if her husband was able to bring her to climax.   Worse, he performed unnecessary vaginal examinations under the guise of teaching her “Kegel” exercises, which led to sexual stimulation.

Way back in 2014, NorthShore learned that another patient reported to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation that Ortega had behaved in a sexually inappropriate and abusive manner during a 2013 appointment. The same kind of stuff – late-night phone calls, inappropriate comments about her body, and a proposition to meet outside the clinic.

Despite knowing at least two such complaints, NorthShore continued to allow Fabio Ortega unrestricted access to female patients, failing to prevent further sexual assaults disguised as medical care. So NorthShore is also accused of not investigating whether Ortega sexually abused other female patients, even after receiving multiple formal complaints about his conduct.  It is hard to understand how this could have happened.

NorthShore Has Better Procedures in 2024, But…

LakeShore has announced a comprehensive overhaul of its policies and procedures across all hospital and care locations. The overhaul aims to foster a supportive environment for reporting abuse, whether it’s threatened or has already occurred.

This initiative includes establishing a system-wide committee dedicated to overseeing these matters. LakeShore emphasizes its commitment to thoroughly investigating any allegations of abuse and collaborating fully with law enforcement authorities.

While these steps are positive and indicate a proactive approach to preventing future abuse, there is little solace for victims.

Many More Women May be Victims of Dr. Ortega

The number of patients sexually abused by Dr. Ortega remains unknown, as there are often more individuals who have not stepped forward, especially when initial lawsuits are filed against doctors with a history of sexual abuse.

Ortega’s misconduct spans as far back as the early 1990s, indicating that he subjected patients to abuse over a quarter-century. There are probably additional victims yet to disclose their experiences. Still, specific estimates on the total number of patients he treated remain unavailable, distinguishing this case from other prominent instances of physician sexual abuse. Several women are just now realizing they were victims of Ortega’s sexual abuse, possibly unaware that his actions constituted illegal behavior.

Civil Lawsuits for Sexual Abuse in Illinois

Under Illinois law, any survivor of sexual abuse or assault possesses the right to initiate a civil lawsuit and pursue financial compensation. Victims can bring a sexual abuse lawsuit in Illinois irrespective of whether criminal charges were filed in connection to the abuse. Notably, survivors retain the right to bring a civil lawsuit even if they never reported or disclosed the abuse to anyone at the time it occurred.

Illinois has made significant changes to its statute of limitations for civil sexual abuse claims, aiming to provide survivors with more time to bring their cases forward. For incidents of childhood sexual abuse, Illinois has eliminated the statute of limitations entirely. This means that survivors can file a lawsuit at any time, regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred. This change acknowledges that survivors may take years or even decades to come to terms with their abuse and decide to take legal action.

For adult survivors of sexual assault or abuse, different limitations may apply, and it’s important to consult with a legal professional to understand the specific time frames relevant to an individual case.

Initiating a civil lawsuit for sexual abuse is a straightforward process—victims only need to be willing to provide testimony about the abuse under oath. Supporting the claims can involve presenting additional evidence. Victims who bring civil sexual abuse lawsuits, especially against dirty doctors like Dr. Ortega, can get significant financial compensation.

Estimated Settlement Amounts for Dr. Ortega Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Many of the sexual abuse lawsuits against Dr. Ortega and his former employers have already been settled. Cases involving sexual abuse by doctors always have very high settlement value.

So, what is our Ortega settlement amount estimate? Our standard answer in similar doctor sexual abuse cases is that our lawyers estimate that individual cases have an average settlement value between $1 million and $2 million.

But these will not be typical sex abuse settlements.  All of the dynamics are here for a significant settlement if you are a victim. We have a very guilty doctor. We have a hospital worth billions that does not want these cases to go to trial. We have a hospital accused of not doing the most obvious things to protect patients.

A verdict of $100 million in some of these cases is far from impossible. Large, multi-million dollar settlements are not uncommon in sex abuse claims like this.  This case is much better than the average case, and our lawyers expect the settlement amounts – or jury payouts, if it comes to it – will be higher.

Again, part of why the settlement values of the lawsuits against Dr. Ortega are so high is that the hospital is not just taking the blame for its agent.  It is culpable itself. That changes the settlement dynamics. Hospitals often prefer to settle cases like this to avoid damage to their reputation and are willing to pay for that.

Birth Injury Settlement Against Dr. Ortega

Sexually abusing patients is not the only offense that Dr. Ortega has been held liable for recently. In 2019, Dr. Ortega and NorthShore agreed to pay $35 million to settle a birth injury malpractice lawsuit. The plaintiff in that lawsuit alleged that Dr. Ortega negligently mishandled the delivery of her daughter, resulting in the child being born with cerebral palsy as a result of oxygen deprivation.

Contact Us About a Sex Abuse Lawsuit Against Dr. Fabio Ortega

More and more former patients of Dr. Fabio Ortega are continuing to come forward to admit that they were victims and bring civil lawsuits. If you were a former patient of Dr. Ortega and you were subjected to inappropriate sexual touching during his treatment, you may be able to bring your own sex abuse lawsuit and get financial compensation.

Call us today at 800-553-8082 or contact us online.

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