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Family of slain UPMC employee sues former attorneys

| Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, 11:18 a.m.

The parents of a Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic employee killed when a mentally ill gunman opened fire in the lobby of the hospital filed a lawsuit against their former attorneys this week, claiming they breached their contract and failed to properly represent them.

John F. Shick, 30, of Oakland walked into Western Psych armed with two handguns on March 8, 2012, killing Michael Schaab, 25, of Regent Square and wounding four others.

Three weeks after the shooting, Schaab's parents, Harry and Mary Schaab of Salem, Westmoreland County, hired the Downtown law firm Farrell & Reisinger to sue UPMC and others they held responsible for their son's death.

According to the lawsuit filed Monday, the Schaabs negotiated a $1.5 million settlement with the region's largest health care provider in July 2012, but the settlement precluded them from suing anyone else associated with UPMC for the death of their son. The initial lawsuit was one of five filed by victims of the shooting against UPMC, Shick's mother, Susan, and others in the 20 months since the incident.

The Schaabs claim their attorneys spent several months trying to get them to sign the agreement, even though they knew they wanted others to be held accountable. After failing to reach an agreement, Farrell & Reisinger filed a lien against Michael Schaab's estate for $514,061.

Attorney Tom Farrell declined to comment Wednesday. The Schaabs could not be reached.

In an expert report filed with the Schaabs' lawsuit, attorney Barbara S. Rosenberg said Farrell & Reisinger breached several of their legal duties, including representing their clients' interests “diligently and competently,” and do not deserve to be paid.

“Farrell & Reisinger violated these duties in his representation of the Schaabs,” Rosenberg said in her 28-page report.

Common Pleas Judge Lawrence O'Toole last week granted the Schaabs $986,000 from the settlement with UPMC. He put $514,000 into escrow until an agreement is reached with their former attorneys.

Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or abrandolph@tribweb.com.

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