Oregon woman sues Legacy Health over attack outside Portland behavioral health facility

By Ryan Haas (OPB)
March 28, 2023 11:55 p.m.

An Oregon woman is suing Legacy Health for $4 million in damages after a man allegedly assaulted her with a large rock outside the Unity Center for Behavioral Health in Northeast Portland last summer.

The lawsuit contends that staff at the Unity Center failed to have sufficient security and allowed Dwayne Anthony Simpson, 40, to assault Sonya Gonzales, who worked at the nearby Legacy Research Institute.


According to the lawsuit, Gonzales had finished work on the afternoon of Aug. 9 and was waiting for her son to pick her up. Simpson had been admitted to the Unity Center that day, according to police.


An affidavit filed by Portland police officers that afternoon states that Simpson struck Gonzales in the head with a large rock, possibly knocking her unconscious. Witnesses that day said they saw Gonzales fall and hit her head again on a concrete barrier.

Simpson was charged with attempted first-degree assault, second-degree assault and unlawful use of a weapon.

The lawsuit alleges Unity Center staff should have known Simpson posed a danger to the public not only because of his time at the center on the day of the attack but also because police had taken him to Legacy Health for a mental health crisis just two weeks before, on July 24. During a mental health evaluation, Simpson said he had violent ideations and “wanted to assault a woman and bash her skull in,” according to the lawsuit.

Simpson had also been charged and released just days before the Gonzales attack. According to court records, Simpson allegedly broke vehicle windows on Aug. 4 and told a gas station attendant he was hearing voices that told him to “kill everyone.” He faces two counts of second-degree criminal mischief in that case.

Gonzales’ attorneys say she has and will continue to suffer significant economic loss following her injuries. They also say she has experienced fear, depression and nightmares since the attack.