Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center. Photo byBestweekevr at en.wikipedia [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5], from Wikimedia Commons
Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center. Photo byBestweekevr at en.wikipedia [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5], from Wikimedia Commons

County USC-Medical Center must turn over the names and duties of all nurses and other medical personnel who treated a La Canada Flintridge woman who stuck pencils in her eyes in a suicide attempt as well as the identifications of staff supervisors, a judge ruled Thursday.

The self-mutilated woman’s image was captured by someone at County-USC Medical Center and it went viral, according to the 24-year-old plaintiff lawsuit, which identifies her only as Jane Doe.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White issued her order over objections of lawyers for the county, who said the request was too broad. The woman was at the hospital for two weeks.

“I know it’s burdensome, you have a lot to go through, but they’re entitled to know who may or may not have been involved,” White said.

The judge also said lawyers for the county can have copies of the plaintiff’s psychiatric records regarding her treatment at Verdugo Hills Hospital from 2009 to the present. The defense attorneys sought the information because the young woman alleges she suffered emotional distress.

White additionally told the lawyers to set up a settlement conference with another judge to explore a possible pretrial resolution of the case.

Alyssa Gjestad, an attorney for the county, said she believed the information the plaintiff’s attorneys needed already was provided. However, the plaintiff’s attorney, Douglas Johnson, said hospital staff members initially did little in response to requests for information and claimed they did not have the photo.

The lawsuit, naming Los Angeles County, the hospital and two non-county employees — Linda Araujo Shivers and her son, Joshua Shivers — was brought Oct. 20. The complaint alleges intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, intrusion upon seclusion, public disclosure of private facts, breach of duty and confidentiality and unauthorized disclosure of medical information.

According to the complaint, the woman was admitted to the county-run hospital about three years ago after trying to kill herself by thrusting pencils into her eyes. She survived, but was blinded, the suit states.

Someone at the hospital, believed to have been a nurse, took an unauthorized photo of the woman with the pencils protruding from her eyes and gave the image to a third party, the suit states. The third party shared the photo with Joshua Shivers, who last July 20 used his mother’s computer to upload it onto “one of the most visited shock websites in the world,” the suit states.

The same day, Joshua Shivers took credit for his actions on a social networking site, saying, “I finally made it in life. Please check out my shiz,” and included a link to the photo, the suit states.

A week later, he placed the same photo onto a “popular entertainment and social media website,” the suit states.

“Many of the comments are exceedingly hurtful, judgmental and tasteless,” the suit states.

Until the photo was made public, the woman was on the road to recovery, the suit states. She learned Braille, is using a computer and a phone despite being blind and is enrolled in college, the suit states.

The woman, who is aware of the photo being made public, worries about how it will affect her later in life, the suit states.

— City News Service

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