Attorneys for Western Psych gunman's mother move to keep deposition, emails secret

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Attorneys for the mother of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic gunman John Shick are trying to block her recent deposition testimony and related documents from public view in an ongoing lawsuit by one of her son's victims.

Susan Shick, who lives with her husband on a boat, is one of several defendants in a suit by Kathryn Leight, who was wounded last year while on duty as a receptionist at the UPMC psychiatric hospital in Oakland.

Mrs. Leight's attorney, Mark Homyak, has argued that Mrs. Shick knew her son was dangerous, did not take steps to involuntarily commit him and did not fully disclose his violent history to physicians treating him at UPMC.

Mrs. Shick's attorneys want to keep their client's emails with her son out of public view and have asked Senior Judge R. Stanton Wettick Jr. to sign a protective order blocking access. They fear Mr. Homyak will make the deposition and other information part of the public record as the court case progresses.

Disclosure, they argue, would cause "substantial hardship, annoyance, embarrassment [and] oppression" to Mrs. Shick.

"Here, unrestricted public access to the private email correspondence and communications of defendant Susan Shick would cause her substantial hardship by gravely infringing upon her right to have her personal life and family matters remain private," according to the motion for a protective order.

The attorneys also said in their motion that no public purpose would be served by disclosing Mrs. Shick's deposition, emails, bank statements and other records.

Neither Mr. Homyak nor Stuart H. Sostmann, one of Mrs. Shick's attorneys, would comment.

The motion was filed Friday. It does not appear from the online court docket that Judge Wettick has taken any action. His law clerk did not have updated information about the status of the motion.

Shick, a 30-year-old schizophrenic with an extensive history of mental health problems, walked into Western Psych with two handguns March 8, 2012, killing milieu therapist Michael Schaab and wounding five others before police fatally shot him.


Jonathan D. Silver: jsilver@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1962.


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