Psych Crime Reporter

July 19, 2012

Psych nurse admits sexual assault; patient wants judgment against mental hospital

A McArthur woman who is suing a former nurse/supervisor at a local mental hospital has asked a judge to grant her partial summary judgment in the case.

The woman, who has asked for damages of more than $2 million, claimed in her suit, filed last December, that Ryan E. Blaine, a former employee of the Appalachian Behavioral Health Center, had inappropriate sexual contact with her in January and February 2011 when she was a patient there.

After the Ohio State Highway Patrol investigated the woman’s allegations, Blaine pleaded guilty to attempted patient abuse, a fifth-degree felony. He was ordered to relinquish his nursing certificate, and placed on three years’ probation.

In addition to Blaine, the lawsuit named five “John Doe” defendants who were working for the Ohio Department of Mental Health, alleging that when the plaintiff complained about Blaine’s actions, the other employees “drugged (her) and subjected her to isolation, telling her that she fabricated the… events of which she complained.”

In asking Athens County Common Pleas Judge Michael Ward to grant partial summary judgment, the woman’s attorneys, Richard V. Zurz and Martin S. Delahunty, cite a number of facts they say are not in dispute, because Blaine has failed to respond to a set of questions filed by the plaintiff, asking for admissions of fact.

These include the fact that Blaine has admitted he was a supervisor at ABH when the woman was there; that he had access to her medical chart; that she was a patient under his care; that he engaged in improper sexual conduct with her; and that he pled guilty to a felony charge stemming from this conduct.

“The foregoing admitted facts constitute violations of Ohio law and constitute an assault and abuse of a patient under Ohio law,” the motion alleges.

The plaintiff has alleged among other claims that Blaine committed assault and patient abuse, and that he violated her constitutional right to be “secure in her person.” Each claim, her attorneys maintain, is supported by the undisputed facts they have cited.

“The defendant’s admissions in conjunction with the laws of the state of Ohio clearly provide that the plaintiff has proven the elements necessary to allow summary judgment” on the first six claims in her lawsuit, the motion argues.

Therefore, Zurz and Delahunty have asked Ward to rule in their client’s favor, and to schedule a hearing on how much she deserves in damages.

When The Athens NEWS sought comment in December 2011 on the lawsuit, a spokesperson for the ODMH said she could not comment on pending litigation involving one of the agency’s facilities. The lawsuit does not name ODMH itself as a defendant.

Source: “Woman wants judgment in mental hospital lawsuit,” The Athens News, July 18, 2012.

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