Victim's attorney pursues appeal in suit against UPMC, shooter's mother

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The attorney for a woman shot during a rampage at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic two years ago has asked the trial court to certify the case for an immediate appeal.

Last week, Common Pleas Judge R. Stanton Wettick Jr. dismissed nearly all of the claims filed by Kathryn Leight against both UPMC and the shooter's mother, Susan Shick.

Today, attorney Mark Homyak filed a motion with the court both seeking clarification of the original order, as well as certification to take the issue to the state Superior Court.

Judge Wettick found in a 26-page opinion that Ms. Leight did not have valid claims against Ms. Shick, because the woman could not be held responsible for her schizophrenic son's actions.

The judge also ruled that a claim against UPMC and University of Pittsburgh Physicians for breach of duty of care could not be sustained because the gross negligence required only applies to "persons involved in the involuntary treatment of mentally ill persons and voluntary inpatient treatment of mentally ill persons." Since John Shick was never involuntarily committed in Pittsburgh, nor was he treated as an inpatient, Ms. Leight could not win such a claim, the judge said.

She was one of five people injured -- another was killed -- during the March 8, 2012, attack at the Oakland hospital.

Judge Wettick ruled that Ms. Leight's ownership claims against the hospital for inadequate safety and security are the only ones that will move forward.

In the motion filed today, Mr. Homyak also asked Judge Wettick for clarification or claims filed against the University of Pittsburgh, which also involved the breach of duty.

The motion notes that Judge Wettick did not address Pitt as a defendant in his opinion, although it could be inferred that Pitt would be dismissed, as well.


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