CHARLESTON -- A former employee is suing Charleston Area Medical Center for wrongful termination of employment.

An unknown man was also named as a defendant in the suit.

Kathryne Smith was employed by the defendant from March 29, 1999 until July 29, 2010, according to a complaint filed Sept. 9 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Smith claims she was discharged in violation of state laws.

In June 2010, a young adult male was brought into the emergency room at the hospital to be evaluated after a fall and apparent head injury, according to the suit.

Smith claims the family members of the man came to her wanting information on drug treatment and getting him committed.

The family members were asking Smith questions about his medical status, of which she was unaware, but she gave general answers regarding substance abuse treatment and informative documents pertaining to committing an adult for substance abuse and/or psych care or evaluation, according to the suit.

Smith claims she treated the encounter like any other and since she had no specific information at the time about the patient's medical condition and drug status, she only responded to inquiries from families, according to her job guidelines.

On July 26, 2010, Smith claims she was called into her supervisor's office to discuss accusations that she had violated Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and was told the complaint had originated from a family member and physician's assistant who had been treating to unknown man.

Smith claims she was informed by her supervisor that the unknown man went to the physician's assistant and complained that she had made comments about him being addicted to Xanax and/or other drugs.

The defendant's discharge of Smith violated state laws because Smith properly performed her job duties and did not violate any laws, according to the suit.

Smith is seeking compensatory and punitive damages and reinstatement. She is being represented by J. Michael Ranson, Cynthia M. Ranson, George B. Morrone III and G. Patrick Jacobs.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Carrie Webster.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 11-C-1597

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