A hospital patient who stuck pencils in her eyes in a suicide attempt, then saw a photo of her self-mutilation on the Internet three years later, settled her lawsuit against the two remaining defendants in the case — a nurse and the nurse’s former employer.
Douglas Johnson, who represents the 24-year-old plaintiff identified as Jane Doe, filed court papers on March 14 with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White stating that his client has reached an agreement with nurse Kristin Ciasulli and her then-employer, HRN Services Inc. No terms were divulged.
Ciasulli was accused by the plaintiff of taking the photo at County-USC Medical Center.
The plaintiff previously agreed to a settlement with Los Angeles County and nurse Shannon Lipham for $497,000, according to court papers filed by defense attorneys. On March 7, White found that the settlement was in good faith.
The complaint was filed in October 2014 and stated that the woman was admitted to the county-run hospital in June 2011 after trying to kill herself by thrusting pencils into her eyes. She survived, but was blinded.
Lipham was a relief pool nurse employed by the county who also was assigned to care for the plaintiff, according to Doe’s court papers, which say Lipham acknowledged in a June deposition that she sent the photograph to her niece, who in turn gave it to a man named Joshua Shivers, who the plaintiff’s attorneys alleged posted the photo.
Ciasulli admitted during a deposition that she took a photo of the injured plaintiff and says she did so as a “teaching tool.” She says she later deleted the image and that it was not the photo that turned up on the Internet.
Up to a half-dozen other medical workers took similar images of the plaintiff when the injured La Canada Flintridge resident was brought into the County-USC Medical Center emergency room, according to Ciasulli.
Ciasulli worked at the time for HRN Services, which supplies hospitals with temporary and supplemental healthcare employees.
Shivers uploaded the image in July 2014 onto “one of the most visited shock websites in the world,” the suit says.
A week later, Shivers placed the same photo onto a “popular entertainment and social media website,” according to the plaintiff’s attorney, who says it has received more than 192,000 Internet views.
Ciasulli said she did not send a copy of the photo she took to Lipham.
Shivers in deposition testimony said he didn’t know how the photo he posted was taken, but said it was given to him by Alexis Brennecke Siwek, the niece of a nurse at the hospital.
—City News Service