News, Views, and Information about Disability

Disability News, Views, Information, and Literature

Monday, May 19, 2014

"Mental health worker" files federal suit against state of Maine for failing to protect her before stabbing

Multiple newspapers and TV news stations in Maine reported today that
Jamie Hill-Spotswood, who was injured on the job at Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta in March of 2013, has filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Maine for failing to protect her at work. Her lawyer contends that the Department of Health and Human Services was guilty of "inexcusable failure to protect employees from foreseeable and grave danger."

Hill-Spotswood, whose job description is given as "mental health worker" in the related articles, was assaulted by a male patient on a locked ward. He stabbed her with a pen repeatedly until other patients and staff intervened. Hill-Spotswood has needed to have surgery and occupational therapy for her hand, which she used to protect her face in the attack.

According to the Portland-Press Herald's story
Jamie Hill-Spotswood, had told Roland Pushard, the assistant director of nursing at Riverview, less than a week before the March 16, 2013, attack that she was 18 weeks pregnant and that she felt unsafe because there was no security on the hospital floor where she worked, she said in the suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Bangor.
Hill-Spotswood said in the suit, filed on her behalf by her attorney Michael Waxman against Department of Health and Human Services Director Mary Mayhew, that the floor was populated by patients known to be “very, very violent” and known to have threatened or attacked workers and patients on numerous occasions. 
She also contends that the state did nothing after she told the Riverview staff that she felt unsafe and that Riverview never disclosed to her that her accused attacker, Mark Murphy, had a “prolific history of violence,” Waxman wrote in a six-page complaint.
Many of the articles focus on the fact that Hill-Spotswood was pregnant at the time of the attack, but information about how the attack affected the pregnancy was not included. Most of the articles include a photo of Mark Murphy in prison orange.

Earlier stories about the assault discussed whether Murphy was criminally responsible for his actions at the time -- whether the assault resulted from a paranoid state or whether it resulted from his anger and frustration when staff canceled his planned visit to his parents' home.

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