CHARLESTON - A woman is suing Hope Clinic after she claims she was sexually harassed and sexually abused by a physician.

Dr. John Pellegrini and the ERX Group LLC were also named as defendants in the suit.

Billie Jo Smith was a patient of the defendants and was sexually harassed and sexually abused by Pellegrini, according to a complaint filed Aug. 21 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Smith claims Hope and ERX negligently allowed the conduct to occur.

Hope and ERX owed a duty to exercise reasonable care with respect to hiring, retention and supervision of Pellegrini and see that patients were not subjected to sexual abuse, sexual harassment or other such inappropriate conduct while undergoing medical treatment from Pellegrini, according to the suit.

Smith claims Hope and ERX knew or should have known that Pellegrini had previously failed to comply with the ethical standards required of a medical provider.

Pellegrini was also sued in 2011 over similar claims.

Smith claims Hope and ERX were on notice for the inherent risks of exposing female patients to the care of Pellegrini. However, despite such risks, the defendants knowingly placed Smith at risk of abuse, the suit says.

As a direct and proximate result of the conduct, Smith suffered anxiety; humiliation; annoyance and inconvenience; invasion of privacy; emotional distress; pain and suffering; mental anguish; loss of her ability to enjoy life; future medical expenses; and other damages, according to the suit.

Smith is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is  being represented by Christopher J. Heavens of Heavens Law Firm PLLC and James D. McQueen Jr. of McQueen Davis PLLC.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Charles E. King.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 13-C-1586

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