PA says she was ousted by doctor's wife over alleged affair

By Lawrence Smith | Aug 10, 2007

POINT PLEASANT – A former physician's assistant at a Mason County hospital alleges the physician's wife orchestrated her removal from his staff.

On July 23, Anita Petitte filed a wrongful termination suit in Mason County Circuit Court. In her suit, Petitte names Dr. Robert L. Lewis II, and his wife, Cindy, as defendants.

Also named in the suit is Pleasant Valley Hospital where Petitte worked for Dr. Lewis as a physician's assistant.

According to the suit, Petitte worked for Lewis from December 2006 until May. Because of her "extensive training and experience as a physician's assistant," her suit maintains, "[Petitte] was very proficient and efficient in the performance of her job duties for Robert L. Lewis II, M.D. and Pleasant Valley Hospital, Inc."

However, Petitte alleges that her employment from Lewis' staff at PVH was terminated in May. According to court records, Petitte alleges the termination was "due to the sexual harassment, gender discrimination and defamation of character to which defendant Cindy Lewis subjected [Petitte]."

Though it is not exactly clear as to when, but records show that during the course of Petitte's employment, Cindy Lewis began harassing her. This harassment, Petitte alleges in her suit, "included, among other things, unwelcome and offensive remarks and/or innuendoes directed to Plaintiff and others that implied Plaintiff was having and affair/sexual relationship with defendant's husband, Robert L. Lewis, M.D."

Furthermore, Petitte alleges that Cindy Lewis, who records show, like Petitte, was an employee of PVH on Dr. Lewis' staff, "would also send harassing and derogatory messages to Plaintiff via e-mail and telephone calls to her home" concerning the alleged affair.

Also, records show "Cindy Lewis also publicly demeaned the Plaintiff's work performance and work ethic, and made rude, offensive and untrue statements about the Plaintiff's character in general."

Cindy Lewis' conduct, Petitte alleges in her suit, was "deliberate, intentional, malicious, wanton and willful, and performed in reckless disregard to the Plaintiff's feeling and well-being ..."

Such conduct resulted in "loss of Plaintiff's income from her job, future loss of income, difficulties in finding substantially similar employment in terms of wages and duties and problems with her licensing at the West Virginia Board of Medicine and the National Commission for Certification of Physican Assistants."

Through her attorney W. Jesse Forbes of Charleston, Petitte is asking the court to "enjoin the Defendants from influencing and/or intimidating witnesses in this case" and "from any further retaliatory acts against the Plaintiff." Also, Petitte asks to be awarded compensatory and punitive damages as set by a jury to include pre- and post-judgment interest, and attorney fees and costs.

As of press time, neither PVH nor the Lewis' filed a reply to Petitte's suit. PVH's attorney, Eric Kinder, with the Charleston law firm of Spilman, Thomas and Battle, declined to comment on the suit.

Likewise, when contacted at her office, Cindy Lewis said she had no comment on the suit.

The suit has been assigned to Mason Circuit Judge David W. Nibert.

Mason Circuit Court case number: 07-C-110

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