West Virginia Record

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Family says psychiatrist responsible for Sissonville man's suicide

By Chris Dickerson | Feb 7, 2006

CHARLESTON – The family of a Sissonville man who killed himself in 2004 says his psychiatrist didn't properly treat him.

In the lawsuit filed Jan. 20 in Kanawha Circuit Court, Steven W. Walker, executor for the Estate of John Wesley Walker, and Gail Walker, the deceased's wife, says Dr. Mark A. Hughes "failed to adequately assess or treat Mr. Walker for suicidality."

John Wesley Walker started seeing Hughes on Sept. 11, 1998. But, according to the lawsuit, Hughes "failed to meet the minimum standard of care in assessing and managing the case of John Wesley Walker which led to his suicide."

On Feb. 24, 2004, John Wesley Walker saw Dr. Lester Labus, his primary care physician. Labus noted that John Wesley Walker was in poor psychological and psychiatric state and sent him to Hughes.

That same day, John Wesley Walker saw Hughes, whose practice is located in South Charleston. His wife Gail also attended the appointment. Hughes noted that John Wesley Walker was "doing poorly – depressed."

The suit, filed by attorney Shannon M. Bland, says John Wesley Walker was a longstanding active patient of Hughes with "Bipolar Affective Disorder and had exhibited several episodes of depression to the point of being suicidal" which was documented in his medical chart.

On Feb. 24, 2004, the suit claims Hughes "failed to adequately assess or treat Mr. Walker for suicidality."

That, the suit alleges, "led to Mr. Walker's suicidal actions resulting in his untimely death" on Feb. 25, 2004. A copy of the death certificate attached to the suit says John Wesley Walker died of a singleself-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. It says he shot himself while in his brother-in-law's garage.

The suit says Hughes is guilty of medical negligence for failing to meet the minimum standard of care for John Wesley Walker.

Gail Walker, his widow, says she has suffered sorrow, mental anguish, solace, loss of services, protection, care and assistance.

Walker's family claims it has incurred medical expenses and has suffered emotional, psychological and psychiatric losses, sorrow, mental anguish and solace which may include society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and advice of Walker.

In addition, the family says it has incurred a loss of income from Walker and services, protection, care and assistance provided by Walker as well as the expenses for the care, treatment and hospitalization of Walker as a result of the injuries that caused his death, and his funeral expenses.

They seek a judgment against the defendant, plus court costs, disbursements, attorney fees, pre- and post-judgment interest and other relief.

They request a jury trial.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 06-C-90

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