Attorneys move to dismiss claim against Western Psych

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Attorneys for Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic Monday filed a motion to dismiss a claim made against the facility related to the shooting rampage there two years ago.

Becky and Gary Seefeldt, as well as their minor daughter, filed a lawsuit against Western Psych, UPMC, University of Pittsburgh Physicians, Re:Solve and the University of Pittsburgh, as well as the estate of the shooter, John Shick, and his mother, Susan Shick, on July 8. It alleged negligent infliction of emotional distress stemming from the March 8, 2012, shooting that left a milieu therapist dead, and five injured. Shick, who had been diagnosed as schizophrenic, was also shot and killed by responding police officers.

Ms. Seefeldt, whose daughter was a patient on the facility's third floor at the time, was in the lobby when Shick began firing, and was just feet away from security guard, Jeremy Byers, who was shot and injured, the complaint said.

The lawsuit also alleges that Ms. Seefeldt’s daughter, who was upstairs, was forced to hide in a dark room under furniture while the hospital was on lockdown. She and was later escorted out by an armed SWAT officer, through the lobby and large amounts of blood, the complaint said. The girl saw Shick's body.

Because of their exposure to the situation, the Seefeldts claim to suffer anxiety, depression, emotional distress and post-traumatic stress disorder.

But, according to UPMC's response, the family’s complaint must be dismissed.

"[T]he Seefeldt plaintiffs, by their own admission, suffered no physical injuries and claim only emotional distress damages,“ attorneys for Western Psych wrote. 

Other similar claims raised by three other plaintiffs who were injured in the shooting that day, were dismissed in Common Pleas Court, the response said, because the plaintiffs could not sustain a claim under Pennsylvania's Mental Health Procedures Act for the failure by Western Psych to properly treat Shick.


Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter: @PaulaReedWard.

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