Former employee sues Genesis Healthcare for battery, emotional distress

By Kyla Asbury | Feb 17, 2011

CHARLESTON -- A former employee is suing Genesis Healthcare after she claims she was attacked by another employee and feared for her safety.

Shayne Hutchinson, an administrator at Genesis Healthcare, and Molly Boardman, a former employee, were also named as defendants in the suit.

Kathy L. Justice was employed by Genesis Healthcare from Feb. 10, 2006, until April 23, 2010, according to a complaint filed Jan. 31 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

On Feb. 24, 2010, Justice was physically attacked by Boardman, according to the suit.

Justice claims Boardman, "with no provocation whatsoever, grabbed Ms. Justice's hair, kicked her and slammed her head on the ground."

Hutchinson fired Boardman from her position as a housekeeper because of the attack, however, she was permitted to continue coming to the nursing home as she had power of attorney over her mother, who was a resident at the nursing home, according to the suit.

Justice claims that in addition, Boardman's daughter and granddaughter worked in the nursing home and that Hutchinson was aware that she had problems with their presence at the home.

Hutchinson was aware that Justice was "extremely worried about Ms. Boardman attacking her again and was aware that Ms. Justice worked in a solitary place where Ms. Boardman or others could go without detection," the complaint states.

Justice claims she talked to Hutchinson about her problems with Boardman and was told that he could not keep Boardman out of the facility.

Because Hutchinson would not guarantee Justice that she would not be exposed to Boardman while she was working, and because she had been physically attacked by Boardman while she was working, she had panic attacks and other mental health issues, for which she sough and received psychiatric care, according to the suit.

Justice claims she could not continue to work in a facility that could not guarantee her personal safety, so she resigned on April 23, 2010.

The defendants created a hostile and dangerous work environment for Justice by allowing Boardman to continue to visit the nursing home, according to the suit.

Justice claims Hutchinson had the authority to keep Boardman out of the facility, but refused to exercise that authority.

The actions of Boardman is attacking Justice, despite lack of provocation or retaliation, constituted battery, which caused Justice to suffer physical, mental and emotional injuries, according to the suit.

Justice is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by Roger D. Forman and Daniel T. Lattanzi.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Carrie Webster.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 11-C-164

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