Doctor, hospital facing lawsuit

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 22, 2000

A former River Valley Health System employee filed a $1.

Tuesday, August 22, 2000

A former River Valley Health System employee filed a $1.2 million suit against a local doctor and the hospital Thursday, claiming harassment led to her quitting her job.

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The lawsuit, filed in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court by Clara Mae Keaton of Ironton, names Lawrence County General Hospital, doing business as RVHS, and the hospital’s chief of surgery, Dr. Rodolpho Canos, as defendants.

The action "brings state claims of sexual harassment, retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and Ohio Public Policy Tort, seeking lost wages and benefits, compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys fees and costs," the lawsuit stated.

RVHS officials said Monday they could not comment. A person answering the phone at Dr. Canos’s office Friday said he had no comment.

Samuel N. Lillard and Elizabeth J. Birch of Mowrey and Youell, Dublin, filed the suit on behalf of Mrs. Keaton, who worked in the operating room.

In the suit, Mrs. Keaton alleges that "between 1996 until 1998, Dr. Canos subjected Keaton to a pattern of harassment of an overtly personal and sexual nature."

The harassment included "unwelcome touching and repeated sexual statements, jokes and innuendoes" and was witnessed by other workers, the lawsuit stated.

From January 1998 through 1999, Mrs. Keaton advised RVHS supervisors that Dr. Canos was harassing her but supervisors failed to take action, the lawsuit stated.

Keaton said hospital officials told her " Canos was not an employee of River Valley Health and because of his position was beyond their control."

Mrs. Keaton alleges that the hospital failed to conduct a meaningful investigation and subjected Mrs. Keaton to "hostile treatment regarding evaluations, job duties and job opportunities."

The suit alleged that Mrs. Keaton, rather than continuing "to endure humiliating treatment," was forced to quit her 40-year position with RVHS

For each of the lawsuit’s four claims, Mrs. Keaton seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as lost wages and benefits, in an amount not less than $300,000 from the defendants. The suit also seeks a civil trial.

Defendants have a period of time to answer claims in the lawsuit before a court date is set. Those answers are filed by defendants’ attorneys.

As filed, a lawsuit represents only one side of a disagreement.