2013-10-10 / Local & State

Pa. Clinic Shooter’s Mom Target Of Pending Lawsuit

By Joe Mandak


PITTSBURGH (AP) – The mother of a mentally ill gunman who killed one employee and wounded five other people at a western Pennsylvania psychiatric hospital is targeted in a pending lawsuit to be filed by the slain worker’s estate, according court filings.

The document filed Thursday is a writ of summons, which doesn’t set forth legal claims, but gives notice that a lawsuit will be filed by the estate of Michael Schaab, the 25- year- old nurse killed in the March 8, 2012, shootings at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic.

The gunman, John Shick, 30, was fatally shot by University of Pittsburgh police who responded to the clinic, which is on the campus but affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, a separate entity. The only defendant listed on the writ is the gunman’s mother, Susan Shick, of Green Cove Springs, Fla.

Susan Shick has already been sued by former clinic receptionist, Kathryn Leight, 64, who was critically wounded. Susan Shick’s attorneys didn’t immediately return calls for comment on the Schaab filing.

“She’s the only one right now that we’re bringing a lawsuit against,” Schaab family attorney Michael O’- Day told The Associated Press on Friday. “We’re attempting to settle with UPMC and other UPMC-related entities.”

UPMC spokeswoman Gloria Kreps declined comment.

Leight sued the gunman’s estate last year, but has since added claims against Susan Shick, doctors and other entities who treated Shick for his mental health issues as well as his imagined physical ailments.

Leight contends Shick failed or refused to follow advice to treat his schizophrenia, which resulted in his being involuntarily committed four times since 2005 in New York City, where he had previously been educated, and in Portland, Ore., after he fought with police at an airport there in 2009.

Leight’s claims against Susan Shick contend she knew about his mental illnesses and violent tendencies, but downplayed such concerns when she spoke to doctors and a UPMC mental health crisis unit which interacted with the gunman in the months before the shootings.

“That’s going to be our theory as well,” O’Day said of his pending claims against Susan Shick.

Schaab was killed while returning from lunch, just as Shick barged into the clinic’s front lobby and began firing.

Shick had come to Pittsburgh as a graduate biology student at Duquesne University, but was banned from campus and withdrew after female students brought harassment complaints against him in the fall of 2011.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. reviewed the shooting and concluded nobody with the clinic, UPMC or others who had contact with Shick bore any criminal responsibility for not preventing the rampage. Shick showed up with a baseball bat at another UPMC facility in the weeks before the shooting and threatened staff and gave other indications he might be violent, but was never committed.

Zappala concluded Shick was angry because he was under the delusion that he had a myriad of medical ailments that were being misdiagnosed by other UPMC doctors.

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