CHARLESTON -- A doctor again has been named in the latest of dozens of sexual harassment lawsuits against him.
Amanda Ward filed a lawsuit July 7 in Kanawha Circuit Court against Hope Clinic PLLC, Dr. John H. Pellegrini, The ERx Group, PmP Services Inc. and PPPFD Inc., citing civil assault and battery, false imprisonment, negligence, premises liability, intentional/negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring, negligent failure to train and/or supervise and medical negligence,.
Ward claims Pellegrini sexually harassed and battered her after she began treatments with him. In October 2012, Pellegrini instructed the plaintiff to lie upon her stomach on the examination table, the suit states. Her face was level with his penis when the defendant rubbed his erect penis on her hand, according to the filing.
In addition, Pellegrini told Ward she was one of the most beautiful patients he had ever had.
Uncomfortable with Pellegrini's actions, Ward told a DEA agent about them. The agent merely smiled and said, "Shame on you, doc," the complaint says. After she told a different inquiring DEA agent about Pellegrini's actions, the doctor cut her medication in half and continued to decrease her prescribed dosage, Ward claims.
Because of Pellegrini's actions, Ward suffered severe emotional and mental distress, endured humiliation and anxiety and sustained embarrassment and aggravation, according to the complaint.
She blames the remaining defendants for contributing to her injuries, saying they breached their duty by failing to properly supervise Pellegrini, giving him the opportunity to attack and sexually assault her.
Pellegrini received a doctorate in osteopathic medicine from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in 1990, and he was licensed to practice in Ohio starting in 1991.
In 1997, the State Medical Board of Ohio gave notice to Pellegrini of an intent to take disciplinary action based on allegations that he had sexual contact with four patients.
“Following hearings conducted in June 1997, it was determined that defendant Pellegrini’s accusers were not credible witnesses, and the allegations against him were dismissed by an order entered on October 9, 1997,” one of the earlier complaints against Pellegrini states.
Pellegrini was licensed by the WVBOM to practice in West Virginia beginning on Nov. 10, 1997. In April 2000, he voluntarily retired or surrendered his Ohio certificate, saying he would not apply for reinstatement there.
“No action was taken by the WVBOM to revoke or otherwise refuse to renew defendant Pellegrini’s license after he surrendered his license in Ohio, notwithstanding the requirements of West Virginia Code …,” a previous complaint states.
In 2010, the civil complaints against Pellegrini began. Those include one filed in Wayne County on behalf of 20 women incarcerated at Lakin Correctional Center. Pellegrini was arrested in Raleigh County in 2011 on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol.
Since 2010, dozens of lawsuits have been filed against Pellegrini involving claims that he sexually abused and harassed patients.
In November 2012, the West Virginia Board of Osteopathic Medicine suspended Pellegrini’s license.
In 2001, Pellegrini was the subject of a medical malpractice lawsuit filed in federal court. The lawsuit stemmed from allegations that Pellegrini negligently performed a hysterectomy on the plaintiff.
A 2012 WVBOM order found probable cause to believe that Pellegrini engaged in unprofessional and unethical conduct. The Board also issued a Statement of Charges that alleged Pellegrini committed repeated acts of an unethical exercise of influence within a doctor-patient relationship for the purpose of engaging a patient in sexual activity.
The Board also found that Pellegrini was likely to continue his practices of unethical and inappropriate behavior unless it took immediate action. The Board then suspended Pellegrini’s medical license based on a finding that Pellegrini’s continued practice of medicine and surgery would constitute an immediate danger to the public.
In 2013, at least one lawsuit was filed against Pellegrini, Hope Clinic and other entities involving allegations that Pellegrini sexually abused, sexual harassed his patients and subjected them to other inappropriate conduct. Other suits have been filed earlier this year in Raleigh Circuit Court and Kanawha Circuit Court.
A complaint filed in June claims the state violated laws by allowing him to continue to hold his medical license. That suit accuses the WVBOM of negligence and violation of state code, claiming it should have known his license to practice was voluntarily retired or surrendered in Ohio in 2000.
“The WVBOM is prohibited from issuing, renewing or reactivating the license of an osteopathic whose license has been revoked or surrendered in another state until such time as that physician becomes eligible for licensure in the state where the action was taken,” the complaint states. “WVBOM was negligent in that it breached its duty to plaintiff by failing to revoke and/or refuse to renew defendant Pellegrini’s license to practice osteopathic medicine after his license was surrendered in the state of Ohio.”
The complaint also claims the WVBOM knew or should have known about the lawsuits filed against Pellegrini in 2010 and 2011 and “took no action to protect the public generally and plaintiff specifically from defendant Pellegrini.”
In the latest lawsuit against Pellegrini, Ward is seeking a judgement of permanent injunction ordering Pellegrini to cease from engaging in unlawful conduct. She also seeks compensatory damages, out-of-pocket damages, punitive damages, pre- and post-judgment interest and other relief the court deems just, plus costs.
She is being represented by attorneys Matthew S. Criswell and Mark L. French of Criswell French in Charleston. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Jennifer F. Bailey.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number 14-C-1212