Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

Attorneys for a La Canada Flintridge woman who stuck pencils in her eyes in a suicide attempt, then sued Los Angeles County and other parties when a nurse took an unauthorized photo of her in that condition was posted on the Internet, told a judge Thursday that up to a half-dozen other nurses may have taken similar images of the plaintiff.

Nurse Kristin Ciasulli admitted during a July deposition that she snapped a photo of the self-mutilated woman while the patient was being treated at County-USC Medical Center in June 2011, according to the court papers of her attorneys.

They told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White that they will seek to amend and update the plaintiff’s lawsuit during a hearing scheduled Oct. 15. Their client is identified in their court papers as Jane Doe.

Ciasulli also testified that five or six other nurses in Doe’s hospital room also took photos of her, according to Doe’s attorneys’ court papers.

Ciasulli worked for HRN Services Inc., which supplies hospitals with temporary and supplemental healthcare employees, according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys. White ruled today that Doe’s allegations against the company needed to be shored up, but the plaintiff’s attorneys said they will do that through the revised lawsuit if the judge grants them permission to file it.

The lawsuit, naming Los Angeles County, County-USC Medical Center, HRN Services, nurses Ciasulli and Shannon Lipham, and Joshua Shivers, was filed last 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 after trying to kill herself by thrusting pencils into her eyes. She survived, but was blinded, the suit states.

Lipham was a relief pool nurse employed by the county who also was assigned to care for the plaintiff, according to Doe’s attorneys’ court papers.

Lipham acknowledged in a June deposition that she sent the photograph to her niece, who in turn gave it to Shivers, according to the plaintiff’s attorneys’ court papers. Shivers uploaded the image in July 2014 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.

The photo has received more than 192,000 Internet views, the plaintiffs’ attorneys state in their court papers.

“Many of the comments are exceedingly hurtful, judgmental and tasteless,” the court papers state.

Heather Laird, one of Doe’s attorneys, said outside the courtroom that she and her fellow lawyers are still trying to establish how Lipham obtained the photo as well as the whether Ciasulli was truthful when she said other nurses also took images of the patient.

The amended complaint would identify the other nurses as “Does” until their identifications are made, according to the plaintiff’s attorneys court papers.

Doe’s lawyers have asked an appeals court to allow them to seek punitive damages against Ciasulli and Lipham.

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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