POINT PLEASANT - A Mason County doctor -- who also is the president of the state agency that licenses and disciplines them -- is named in a wrongful death suit that includes allegations he committed fraud in filing false information, and claims to other agencies to prove the teenager who died working for him was legally employed.
Lori McCoy, as administratrix of the estate of Andrya Lynn Jordan, filed suit against Dr. John A. Wade on Nov. 20 in Mason Circuit Court. In addition to Wade, McCoy, 43, names his practice, John A. Wade, M.D., Inc., and Steelcase Inc., a Grand Rapids, Mich. Office furniture company, as co-defendants.
In addition to claims against Steelcase and Wade for product liability and/or wrongful death, McCoy alleges Wade fraudulently induced her to sign documents proving Andrya was one of his employees in an attempt to collect on a claim he filed with Brickstreet, the private insurance company that handles most workers compensation cases.
Crushed by cabinet
According to McCoy's complaint, Andrya worked for Wade from July to Nov. 26, 2006, filing medical records, and other related documents. She worked "in a two-car garage/storage facility which was remote from his medical offices."
Wade, 62, who lives on Snowcrest Lane in Point Pleasant, has offices at both Pleasant Valley Hospital in Point Pleasant, and Jackson General Hospital in Ripley. Records show, Andrya started working for Wade at 16, and was paid to only do filing at the storage building located on Lincoln Avenue.
On Nov. 26, 2006, Andrya, who was then 17 and a junior at Point Pleasant High School, was working alone at the building. The suit alleges while Andrya was loading a cabinet with files, it tipped over, and pinned her against a Jeep that was also inside the building.
Though records are unclear as to what time the incident occurred, emergency crews arrived at 6:51 p.m., and found her unresponsive. She was later pronounced dead at the scene.
According to her obituary, Andrya had a daughter, Liberty Lynn "Libby" Wroten she shared with her boyfriend, Mark Wroten. McCoy is divorced from Andrya's father, Andrew J. Jordan, and lives in Point Pleasant with her husband, William.
For reasons not immediately clear, the suit was originally filed in McDowell Circuit Court where its was dismissed by Judge Booker T. Stephens on April 23 for lack of jurisdiction. A writ of prohibition McCoy filed with the state Supreme Court was denied on Sept. 9.
In her suit, McCoy alleges both Steelcase, and Wade are to blame for Andrya's death.
Specifically, she accuses Steelcase of manufacturing a defective filing cabinet. Among the design defects was an "interlock system" that didn't work.
Also, McCoy maintains Steelcase failed to provide any user of the filing cabinet, including Andrya, labels and instructions on installing the cabinet, and loading the drawers. Those labels and instructions should have notified users "to load from the bottom drawer up, and to open one drawer at a time" to prevent tipovers.
Additionally, McCoy accuses Wade of failing to provide Andrya "a safe and non-hazardous work environment." Among other things, that included the necessary equipment to help a 5'2" girl load the top drawer of 5'5" 500 pound cabinet, adequate supervision and securing the cabinet to prevent a tipover.
Immunity via fraud
As if the circumstances surrounding Andrya's death weren't enough, McCoy alleges Wade took advantage of the grief she was suffering from it to file a false workers compensation claim.
According to her suit, Wade sent a member of his staff, Terri Johnson, to McCoy's house on Dec. 1, 2006 when she was "highly medicated" to sign a document. When McCoy asked what it was, Johnson told here it was something "she needed for the office."
Later, McCoy discovered the document Johnson had her sign was a workers compensation claim form for Brickstreet. Included in this claim was a fraudulent W-2 form "which incorrectly listed the amount of FICA-Social Security withholdings and FICA-Medicare withholdings that had been paid during the time Andrya Lynn Jordon was working in 2006."
In her suit, McCoy avers that though Andrya worked for Wade, no time during her employment did he take out "federal withholdings from her pay such as social security, medicare federal income withholding taxes, state income withholding takes and the like prior to her death." Also, McCoy alleges Wade failed to not only report Andrya as a employee on his third quarter 2006 report to the state Department of Employment Security, and also pay workers compensation premiums for her.
The fraudulent acts committed by Wade, McCoy alleges were done in an attempt "to establish Andrya Lynn Jordan was an employee of John A. Wade, M.D. Inc." and for Wade "as an individual to take advantage of the immunity statute codified in West Virginia Code 23-4-2."
As a result of Andrya's death, McCoy maintains that not only has she incurred funeral expenses, but she and Libby have suffered "sorrow, mental anguish, solace" and the loss of Andrya's "society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and advice." McCoy makes a claim for loss of parental consortium on Libby's behalf.
In her suit, McCoy seeks unspecified damages, interest, costs and fees. She is represented by Dwight J. Staples, and Gail Henderson-Staples of the Huntington law firm of Henderson, Henderson and Staples.
The case is assigned to Judge Thomas C. Evans III.
According to the state Board of Medicine, Wade graduated medical school from West Virginia University in 1973, and completed his residency at WVU-Charleston two years later. His specialties are in otolaryngology -- eye, ear, nose and throat disorders -- and allergies.
Since first being appointed to the Board in April 2001 by then-Gov. Bob Wise, Wade has become its president. The Board, an arm of the state Department of Health and Human Services, oversees the licensure and disciplining of medical doctors, podiatrists and physicians assistants.
Mason Circuit Court, case number 09-C-139