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Western Psych receptionist injured in shooting moves to appeal dismissal of her lawsuit

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By Adam Brandolph
Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 4:06 p.m.

The lawyer for a former Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic receptionist wounded during a shooting spree more than two years ago filed a motion Wednesday asking a judge to certify the case for an immediate appeal.

Common Pleas Court Judge R. Stanton Wettick last week threw out claims made against the mother of John Shick, who opened fire at the clinic, and his doctors, along with most claims against UPMC, which owns Western Psych.

Shick, 30, of Oakland killed a therapist and wounded four on March 8, 2012, before police shot and killed him.

Former hospital receptionist Kathryn Leight, 66, of Shaler, whom Shick shot and wounded, and other victims sued his mother, Susan Shick, the University of Pittsburgh Physicians and UPMC. They claimed UPMC doctors missed several opportunities to commit Shick to a mental facility. Two doctors at Shadyside Family Health Center asked Western Psych for involuntary commitment papers but didn't follow through with filing them, the lawsuit stated.

Wettick ruled that doctors who treated Shick during previous visits to Western Psych were not responsible for his shooting spree because their care is not covered under state mental health laws. Shick received voluntary, outpatient treatment, which does not entitle third parties to hold physicians responsible, Wettick said.

Leight's attorney, Mark Homyak, filed a motion seeking a clarification of the judge's order and a certification to take the issue to state Superior Court.

Shick, diagnosed as schizophrenic during involuntary commitments in New York and Oregon, began seeing doctors at UPMC's Shadyside Family Health Center in 2011, when he moved to Pittsburgh to begin graduate school at Duquesne University. The school expelled him in October 2011 because he harassed female students.

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