Settlement reached in firing of PVH physician's assistant

By Lawrence Smith | Dec 5, 2008

POINT PLEASANT – A settlement has been reached in a wrongful termination suit filed by a former physician's assistant who alleged the wife of the doctor for whom she was working ordered her fired on suspicions they were having an affair.

Dec. 9 was the scheduled date for trial in the case of Dr. Anita Petitte v. Robert L. Lewis and Cindy Lewis in Mason Circuit Court. However, trial was averted when on Aug. 12 a settlement was reached.

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed in court records, and W. Jesse Forbes, Petitte's attorney, and Eric Kinder, with the Charleston law firm of Spilman, Thomas and Battle, attorney for Pleasant Valley Hospital, declined to comment. PVH was named as a co-defendant in the suit.

According to the suit, which was filed in July 2007, Petitte worked as a physician's assistant for Dr. Lewis at his office at PVH from December 2006 until May 2007. Despite her "extensive training and experience as a physician's assistant," Petitte alleges Cindy Lewis had her fired over a suspected affair Petitte was having with Robert.

In her suit, Petitte alleges that Cindy Lewis, who records show, like Petitte, was an employee of PVH on Robert's staff, "would ... send harassing and derogatory messages to [Petitte] via e-mail and telephone calls to her home" concerning the alleged affair.

"Cindy Lewis also publicly demeaned [Petitte's] work performance and work ethic, and made rude, offensive and untrue statements about [her] character in general," the suit alleges.

As a result of the Lewis's and PVH's conduct, Petitte alleged she not only suffered past and future loss of income, but also "difficulties in finding substantially similar employment in terms of wages and duties." Also, Petitte alleged her firing from PVH caused "problems with her licensing at the West Virginia Board of Medicine and the National Commission for Certification of Physician Assistants."

Though it is unclear if the settlement played a part, but Board's Web site show Petitte has an active license as a physician's assistant until March 31, 2009. Also, she is now working under the supervision of Drs. Nohl A. Braun, Jerry Lee Frame and Piayon E. Kobbah at CAMC's New Century Physicians of West Virginia Inc. in Cross Lanes.

The West Virginia Record attempted to get a comment from the Lewis' concerning the settlement. When asked to speak with Cindy at Dr. Lewis' office, a woman who answered the telephone said, "She doesn't work here much anymore."

When contacted at his home in Hurricane, Robert declined to comment on the settlement other than he was satisfied with the terms.

Mason Circuit Court case number 07-C-110

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