The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

March 28, 2014

Case against doctor, clinic ‘gearing up’

By Wendy Holdren
Register-Herald Reporter

— Christopher J. Heavens, one of the attorneys representing five women suing Dr. John Pellegrini and the Hope Clinic, said the matter is “just gearing up.”

Heavens represents Cheryl Bragg, Kathy Keen, Elisha Riffe, Carista Click and Michelle Dalton, all who claim Pellegrini sexually assaulted and harassed them.

The cases were filed in late February in Kanawha County Circuit Court and Heavens said since these cases have been filed, other women have contacted his office.

“We’re basically at this point trying to identify all the interested parties in the claim,” Heavens said.

He described Hope Clinic as a fairly large operation, with several other corporate entities involved.

In the five suits already filed, both ERX Group and PMP Services are listed as co-defendants, but Heavens said additional corporate entities could be charged.

He said his office is working with defense counsel, as there are numerous plaintiffs, to possibly consolidate the cases.

“We want to handle these cases in the most efficient manner possible,” Heavens said, but when it comes to sexual harassment cases, he said every individual “has different damages in some respect.”

Although Pellegrini is being charged with the same claim from all the women involved (rubbing his erect penis on their bodies during their examinations), Heavens said “that affects everyone in a different way.”

Pellegrini is being represented by Don R. Sensabaugh, Amy L. Rothman and the Flaherty Sensabaugh Bonasso law firm. Rothman told The Register-Herald Wednesday she was consulting with her client for further comment at a later time.

Pellegrini filed an answer to one of the plaintiff’s claims on March 21, denying the “incident” ever happened and demands “strict proof” thereof. Responses to the other complaints have not yet been filed.

Co-defendants ERX Group and PMP Services have filed a cross claim against Pellegrini, stating that in September 2010, Hope Clinic sought PMP’s services to assist with physician scheduling needs.

The cross claim said Hope Clinic retained the rights to refuse the scheduling and/or staffing of any physician at its clinic and neither ERX or PMP ever employed Pellegrini and neither had control or supervision over him.

ERX and PMP deny the allegations that they were responsible for Pellegrini’s conduct while at Hope Clinic.

— E-mail: wholdren@register-herald.com