Friday, April 28, 2006

Prof's dismissal raises ire

Prof's dismissal raises ire

By Michael Huang/Correspondent
Published: 4/28/06

Though many of her students give her rave reviews, Donna Toma - a part-time lecturer in the Psychology Department - will not be re-hired next semester.

To add insult to injury, Toma said she was not informed of the department's decision until a student e-mailed her and said a class she had been slated to teach over the summer was no longer being offered.

Department Chair Barbra McCrady said decisions about re-hiring instructors to keep on board are made based on qualitative aspects.

"She is the most wonderful teacher I've ever had, she'll help anyone," said Kelle Slater, a student who has had Toma for three classes. "She'll spend hours with you to help academically or personally, she's a really great person."

Toma said the department did not inform her of its decision not to re-hire her before notifying students that she would no longer teach a class she had been slated to.

"I had already received the roster for who was teaching Summer Sessions and what room I was teaching in," she said. Toma later received a call from a student registered for one of her summer classes where she found out the department had sent out an e-mail saying she would no longer be teaching that class, she said.

Toma said she feels the decision about her may stem from an incident involving e-mails to students.

After the first exam in one of Toma's classes had been administered, Psychology Department Vice-Chair Arnold Glass sent an e-mail to each student to ask how the class was going.

Some students responded to Glass' initial e-mail by informing him that Toma was late to class.

Later, a complication from an incurable chronic disease from which Toma suffers put her in the hospital. She asked Glass' office to send e-mails to her students notifying them that her next class would be cancelled, but the e-mail was never sent, she said.

Toma said she had never been more than five minutes late for a class except for that time. The disease, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, is one she said the department knew she suffers from.

Jennipher Samms, a University College senior, said Toma often stayed later than class to address students' concerns.

"There are instances where there would be a line of 20 people waiting to talk to her after class," said Samms. "[Toma] stayed and waited to speak with every single student, and she did it night after night so that they would understand. Most teachers would just tell you to come to office hours."

According to McCrady, the department chair, the decision was fair.

"Each year we make a decision on an annual basis who we will be hiring," she said.

When asked about the situation with Toma, McCrady said, "I do not make personnel decisions based on personal feelings. We are following all the rules."

Although McCrady felt it inappropriate to reveal the specific criteria behind dismissing instructors, she said it includes a lot of qualitative aspects.

One way in which qualitative aspects can be measured are by the reports handed out to students at the end of each semester asking students to rate their professors on a scale of one through five, called student instructional rating surveys.

In spring of 2005, Toma taught two sections of Adolescent Development. Of the ratings given, 77 percent were a four or a five. In the other section, 73 percent of all ratings were a four or five. In a class taught spring of 2004, 81 percent of all ratings given to Toma were a four or five.

On the other hand, in fall 2005, students rated 51 percent of ratings given to Glass as a four or five, and in fall 2004, 69 percent of ratings were given a four or five.

According to, which rates professors according to easiness, helpfulness and clarity, Toma is given an overall quality of 3.5 out of 5, and a 3.6 in helpfulness.

Toma has been a part-time lecturer for the undergraduate Psychology Department for more than 6 years, she said.

Douglass College's Mabel Smith Society has awarded Toma several times for her work with students. She has also won The "Apple-Pie" Award from the Athletic Department for her work with student athletes. She participated in a Jeopardy-style trivia game that pitted students against teachers to raise money and awareness on National AIDS Day and has served as an adviser and mentor for students working on honors theses and internships.

Amy Bahruth, the American Association of University Professor's bargainer for part-time lecturers, said that a part-time lecturer who works six years or six consecutive semester is entitled to a written explanation of the non-hire decision.

Click Here For The Original Article Online


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Trial date set for wrongful raid, originally uploaded by rsdscrpsnews.

Trial date set for wrongful raid

By Cynthia Kaneshiro -The Garden Island
Posted: Wednesday, Apr 12, 2006 - 04:03:55 am HST

A jury-trial date is set in the home-invasion case involving Sharon and William McCulley of 'Oma'o and officers of the Kaua'i Police Department.

April 17 is the date for the federal court case, said John Rapp, an attorney for the McCulleys, on Monday.

He indicated that there is always the possibility of a settlement before the case goes to trial.

David Minkin, special counsel for Kaua'i County, said that, at this point in time, it is way too early to make a determination about a settlement.

There is initial discovery to be done, said Minkin.

The McCulleys allege that police invaded their home last year without a warrant while they were looking for a box of marijuana they later found at a nearby home. The couple claims that the raid left them with medical expenses and emotional distress.

They were babysitting their two grandchildren when police entered their home unannounced in March 2005.

The police were following a box of marijuana that was mailed from California to the Koloa post office. A transmitter was put into the box, and the police lost track of the box and went into the couple's home.

According to court records, neighbors who saw what happened could be interviewed to give their accounts of what they saw. The police officers involved in the incident could also be interviewed.

Doctors could also be interviewed to determine the extent of the couple's medical bills, treatment and care, along with what kinds of emotional suffering they have as a result of the raid.

Court papers also show that information will be needed about the transmitter that was put in the box.

Additionally, the three who were arrested in relation to the marijuana box could also be interviewed, according to court records.

In court papers, William Mc-Culley said police came in yelling, "get down, get down." He pointed out in court papers that he did not have time to comply with the order before he was thrown to the floor from his wheelchair.

Court records reveal that he broke his left foot while on the job in 2001. The injury led to a nervous system disorder called reflex sympathetic dystrophy, a chronic-pain condition, and an electrical device was implanted in his spinal cord to alleviate pain.

The device went haywire and he was "electrocuted" when he was thrown down, according to court records.

"I was flopping on the ground," he said in court papers.

Court records show that the raid aggravated his condition, for which there is no cure.

Both McCulleys claimed that they have post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the raid.

The incident caused them to distrust the police in general, and left them jumpy, they said.

# Cynthia Kaneshiro, staff writer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or

Click Here For Original Article Online


Monday, April 24, 2006

Jury awards $4.2 million to teacher after tragic fall, originally uploaded by rsdscrpsnews.

Jury awards $4.2 million to teacher after tragic fall

Thursday, April 13, 2006
Bruce Cadwallader

With both arms curling inward from a rare nerve reaction to a broken arm she suffered in an icy fall three years ago, teacher Tessa Zanke can’t bear the pain of hugging her students.

She can’t hold a pencil or drive, and the burning pain will never go away, her attorney said yesterday.

For future pain and suffering and to cover medical costs, a Franklin County Common Pleas jury awarded the special-education teacher $4.2 million on Tuesday. It is one of the largest jury awards for a premises-liability case here, behind a 1999 jury award of $5.8 million to a 6-year-old girl who suffered permanent brain damage as a result of injuries at a local Kmart.

The civil trial, heard by Judge Charles A. Schneider, lasted three weeks.

Zanke is a teacher in Lexington, Ky., and now has help from a teacher’s aide. But district administrators say that because they cannot afford an aide for next year, they won’t renew Zanke’s contract.

Even with the help of an aide, "I left my classroom four or five times a day to cry in the rest room and ask God for relief from the pain," Zanke, 27, said yesterday.

"My life just changed right before my eyes. Before that happened, I was very active and was very much involved in volunteer work."

At the time of the fall, Zanke was just out of college and pursuing her childhood dream of teaching elementary students. She was unaware that residents were complaining to the management about ice at the Spring Creek Apartments near Rt. 161 and Cleveland Avenue.

Contractors at the 19-building complex had removed rain gutters on many of the buildings in order to replace siding. The work was to be completed by December 2002, but weather and costs pushed the project into the next year.

Ice from the pooling water accumulated on the walks and stairs around her building. On March 3, 2003, Zanke fell on a patch that was 4 feet wide and 3 inches thick.

The Village Green Management Co. knew of the dangers and had issued work orders to eliminate the ice, said James Arnold, Zanke’s attorney.

"One woman fell down 12 steps," he said. "A week before Tessa fell, another woman went into the management office and told them this "was an accident waiting to happen."

Zanke sued the management company and the apartment owners, CK Spring Creek Limited Liability Corp., for negligence.

Doctors who testified in the trial said Zanke’s right arm was broken and didn’t heal correctly. She developed a disorder known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy, which results when a signal is sent to the brain to send more blood to an injured area. Her condition has spread to her left arm, causing a continuous burning sensation and hypersensitivity.

"It could happen to me or you," Arnold said. "She’ll ultimately end up with two nonfunctioning arms."

Michael Valentine and Al Mockhtari, attorneys for the defendants, argued that the ice was a natural accumulation for which the two companies could not be held responsible.

Arnold argued that the accident was preventable.

Valentine and Mockhtari said they will appeal the verdict. Valentine declined to comment yesterday.

Zanke was offered $60,000 in a pretrial settlement, Arnold said.

"I’ve had larger verdicts, but it’s a pretty big verdict by Franklin County standards," Arnold said. "These companies operate nationwide with about 25,000 units, and they are heavily insured."

He said Zanke will have to wait at least 18 months for the appeal to collect any of the money.

"My greatest fear is that I won’t be able to work with children again," Zanke said. "I have some decisions to make."

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Despite disease, hope is not lost, originally uploaded by rsdscrpsnews.

Despite disease, hope is not lost

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Declaring "I'd be a guinea pig for anything," Karen Garrett, a single mother of four, hopes against hope for the unexpected: A cash windfall that would enable her to go to Germany for treatment of an illness that is systematically wrecking her life.

The West Deptford woman has RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy), a chronic neurological disease with across-the-board symptoms that may include severe burning pain, tissue swelling and extreme sensitivity to touch. She is not alone. Many dozens of Gloucester County residents are RSD sufferers, and, like Karen, many also yearn to make the trip to Germany, where ketamine treatment is available.

But it is expensive. Several county residents have paid about $50,000 for revolutionary treatment abroad with various measures of success. At least one Delaware Valley physician is specializing in outpatient treatment at Hahnemann, but his caseload is heavy, his waiting list lengthy. RSD is a mysterious disease with no clear-cut triggers. It is as perplexing as it is painful.

"I have no good days, especially when it rains," says Karen, who is 45. "I hate laying on the couch. Sometimes I get so depressed. I don't have a life anymore."

Diagnosed with RSD eight years ago, Karen says her pain has been concentrated on her right side but now seems to be affecting her left side as well. Her lower back, legs, arms and neck cause her such excruciating pain there are many nights she is unable to sleep. The endless pain is evident in her voice; the slightest movement may cause her to cry out.

Unable to work (she was at Checkpoint Systems for five years), the life-long West Deptford resident and 1979 West Deptford High grad currently lives on $480 in monthly welfare and a similar amount in food stamps. She is hopeful of going on Social Security Disability.

Compounding her battle against RSD, Karen was injured in May 2004 when she was involved in a head-on collision near Green-Fields Swim Club.

"When it rains, it pours," she says.

She is divorced. All four of her children - Alton "A.J.," 19, a freshman at Gloucester County College; Laurie, 17, a high school junior; Bryan, 9; and Carol Ann, 8 - live at home.

Karen was the beneficiary in the final Dawn Lewis Memorial Indoor Mini-Golf Tournament in 2005. The highly successful event was held to aid a West Deptford resident in need, raising over $100,000 in 10 years, and produced about $17,000 to start a Karen Garrett fund. She said she hasn't touched the money because she hopes it one day will help her to get to Germany, where, at least, she feels she will have some hope.

"It's all so sad and frustrating," says Jill Love, a sympathetic golf committee member who knows Karen. "She struggles daily with the disease, which gets worse as the days go by."

Karen is comforted by support she has received from the community, topped by the golf tournament, noting "West Deptford has been very good to my family."

But her daily battle to get off her couch, return to work and function somewhat normally, continues.

"I need an advocate," Karen says.

Click Here For Original Article Online


Monday, April 10, 2006

Journey into the 'burning hell' of RSD

Inside Bay Area, originally uploaded by rsdscrpsnews.

Journey into the 'burning hell' of RSD

Article Last Updated: 04/03/2006 9:42 AM PDT

By Barry Caine, STAFF WRITER

LAURA SORAVILLA walks gingerly up the stairs to the second-floor bedroom she and her husband Andy converted to a studio apartment.

The room is equipped with a voice-activated phone system, a small refrigerator, a TV and DVD player, furniture, pillows and a couple of remotes.

"I used to be able to do my remotes with my toes, but now my feet are out of commission," Soravilla says.

A resident of San Ramon, the former dancer and legal secretary suffers from Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), a debilitating nerve-related syndrome that keeps people in constant pain.

Unless it is treated early enough, there is no cure for RSD, which was first identified during the Civil War but still befuddles the medical community.

Also known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type 2 (CRPS2), the syndrome — it is not a disease — is difficult to diagnose because the symptoms vary, and the pain is difficult todescribe.

Nobody knows for certain how many have it, says Dr. Aimee Chagnon, a Mill Valley neurologist, but she estimates the number in America is "probably in the range of several hundred thousand."

RSD strikes more women than men. It can hit anyone from young children to the elderly. The typical patient is a female in her 20s to 40s.

Soravilla, 58, has had it in her hands for 10 years. "Now it's spreading to my legs," she says.

Her eyes well up, but the tears don't fall.

"You learn to live with what you have and make the most of it," she says.

At its worst, the pain is "burning hell," she says. "It's horrible. You can't concentrate. You can't do anything. You have to go into a dark room because even light affects you."

Others have described the pain as feeling like drills going through their bones; or as if their hand is being dipped in a vat of acid and they can't pull it out.

Some have the sensation of bugs crawling beneath their skin. Often, there's a constant deep ache, or the sensation of a lance going through a body part.

When the pain is that intense, "you can't have anybody touch you," Soravilla says. "You take your meds and wait till it goes down. It's a constant up and down, up and down."

No one knows exactly what triggers RSD, but often it strikes someone who has suffered a minor injury such as a twisted ankle or fall. Car accidents, minor surgeries and bumped limbs can also lead to RSD.

If you didn't know she had RSD you would think Soravilla looks fine. That's a common problem for those with the syndrome. Other people don't believe there's anything wrong with them. So they are often treated as malingerers; as if their problem is imagined.

To ease her discomfort, Soravilla dresses in soft, loose-fitting clothes, such as the velour sweatsuit she has on today. She and her husband are on their way to an RSD support group meeting at Body Lines Day Spa in San Ramon.

Like Soravilla, other attendees wear sweats. One wears thick gloves. A couple rest their feet on pillows. All wear tennis shoes or other comfortable footwear.

It's like a room filled with delicate crystal. Most move carefully.

"I used to be a people person," says Franci, one of many who drove to the meeting from Castro Valley. Everyone but Soravilla, who started the group with another member, asked that their last names not be used.

"In my head, if somebody hits this leg I will die," Franci says, referring to her right leg. "I can't do anything for any length of time. My fear is my leg won't work if someone stops (his car) in front of me."

Her RSD started after a botched hysterectomy. Before that she was a successful businesswoman. Since then, she has lost her house, her savings, "everything," she says. "I lost my marriage, my kids, because they thought I was crazy. They put me in a psych ward."

Misdiagnoses are not unusual, given the unfamiliarity many medical people have with RSD and pain treatment in general.

Pain is the most common reason people give for seeking medical care in this country. Costs total $120 billion. Yet it is not focused on in the education of U.S. doctors, Chagnon says.

Most in the support group have been treated with some combination of pain medicine, antidepressants, antipsychotics, antiseizure medication, muscle relaxants, compounded topicals for skin, oral anesthetics and injectable anti-inflammatories. Some have tried biofeedback and meditation.

Recently, Franci went to an accupuncturist. It helped. "I can climb stairs, which I hadn't been able to do for 51/2 years," she says.

She and other members exchange information and give updates on what's working and what's not with their bodies, families, doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists and bureaucracies, such as the Workman's Compensation system.

Emily, who co-founded the group with Franci, says antipsychotics have helped her, and her pain is in remission. Her RSD seemed to start after her arm got sore from her dog pulling too hard on its leash.

Donna feels pain from RSD in her face and mouth. It is so severe that she can't go outside without wearing a bubble-like plastic mask.

Dave's began after he started using a computer. He is the one wearing gloves. "When I walk through a room it feels like a sunburn," he says.

He sleeps in a chair at night because he can't lie flat on a bed. His wife doesn't like the arrangement. "My wife is afraid to touch me so she doesn't," he says.

Dave admits he's tired of the pain and the accompanying losses — of status with his family, of income and of normalcy.

It's common for people with RSD to consider suicide.

Chronic-pain patients are eight to 10 times more likely to commit suicide than the average, Chagnon says. The neurologist specializes in treating people with RSD, nerve pain, pain from nerve injuries, Multiple Sclerosis and stroke, at Bay Area Pain Medical Associates in Mill Valley.

In addition to getting worse, RSD pain often changes, she says. Also, the pain can spread, although the exact mechanism behind it is not understood.

"It's postulated that even though we can't detect it, somewhere nerves are damaged," Chagnon says.

Over time, the wiring in the central nervous system — the brain and spinal cord — changes.

"The mechanisms that we use to lay down new memories and new learning in our brain are actually used in the spinal cord to lay down pain memories," Chagnon says.

"Eventually, no matter what we do to the original area of injury, it won't matter. The central nervous system is rewiring itself to say this is the new normal state of affairs. It is learning to be in pain."

She says the most important thing is treating RSD in time, ideally within three to six months of exhibiting symptoms, such as swelling and temperature change in the area.

If a patient is given nerve blocks early on to "get them out of pain and get them moving, we really have a good shot at putting them into what's now termed 'a remission,' " Chagnon says. "Because we understand that that person always will be at risk for it coming back. But overall, the person's chances are quite excellent for it never coming back."

For someone who has had RSD for a year or more, the prognosis for a cure is poor, although pain specialists have gotten better at managing the symptoms.

When Chagnon treats RSD patients, one of the things she suggests is pet therapy. Data has shown that having pets helps reduce pain, blood sugar and blood pressure, and improves depression and sociability.

Soravilla is a believer. She calls Cujo, a long-haired Chihuahua, her therapy dog. "Whenever I'm hurting real bad or crying, he will come up and kiss my cheek and put his head on my shoulder," she says.

"Lots of times it's really hard. You don't show it. You put on a happy face. What people don't see is you just cry and cry because it hurts so bad."

There are good days, though. And on those days, "You're ecstatic."

On those days, Soravilla and her husband often visit with their granddaughter Andrea, 4. They go outside, sit, and look at birds and flowers.

She shows off a poster-size picture of Andrea wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with "I (heart) someone with RSD." Her smile fills the room.

For information on RSD, visit the National Institute of Health Web site at and click on "reflex synthetic dystrophy."

For information on the RSD support group,

e-mail Laura Soravilla at

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Monday, April 03, 2006

$135,000 settles Yakima School District lawsuit

YakimaHerald, originally uploaded by rsdscrpsnews.

$135,000 settles Yakima School District lawsuit


A lawsuit accusing the Yakima School District of negligence for a second-grader's controversial playground injury nearly nine years ago has been settled for $135,000.

The settlement averted a civil trial that was scheduled to begin Monday in Yakima County Superior Court. It was reached Feb. 23 as a result of mediation, according to court records.

The case revolved around an incident that occurred Nov. 12, 1997, at Whitney Elementary School. The lawsuit was filed in September 2003.

The girl, identified by the initials B.V., told school officials she was attacked during recess by two boys, also second-graders, who repeatedly kicked her right leg.

Lawyers for the girl accused the school district of negligence, saying no playground monitors were in the tetherball area when the attack occurred.

They said the girl, who is now 16, was later diagnosed with a condition called reflex neurovascular dystrophy and has needed years of treatment, including surgery and physical therapy.

In addition, they said she was too afraid to go to school after the attack, continuing her education via correspondence courses.

The school district countered that nobody ever witnessed the alleged attack — which the girl said happened fast — even though there were numerous children around at the time.

Lawyers for the district also claimed there was no evidence playground supervisors were derelict in their duties that day, and that monitors cannot be everywhere at the same time.

Moreover, they also argued the school district was not liable because school officials were unaware of any impending trouble and that the boys who allegedly attacked the girl did not pose disciplinary problems.

Under the terms of the settlement, B.V. will receive just under $60,000 of the $135,000 settlement. Her parents, Edgar and Vicki Vertrees, get $3,500.

The girl's Yakima attorneys, Blaine Tamaki and Bryan Smith, received $45,000 in attorneys fees. The Tamaki law firm also was reimbursed $20,824.76 in costs.

The balance of the settlement went to other costs, including roughly $4,500 in reimbursement to the state Department of Social and Health Services, which covered the girl's medical bills.

n Chris Bristol can be reached at 577-7748 or at

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ContraCostaTimes, originally uploaded by rsdscrpsnews.


Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy support

Second and fourth Wednesdays monthly

11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Bodylines Day Spa
2330 San Ramon Valley Blvd.
San Ramon.


Chronic pain puts Focus on Life

TimesTribuneFlag, originally uploaded by rsdscrpsnews.

Chronic pain puts Focus on Life



A stroll through Lynda Thomas’ Taylor home is like a journey through the American West. The living room is filled with Native American dolls, drums and pottery — all mementos from travels through Arizona and New Mexico. A totem pole from a Northwest tribe stands just inside the front door, and dishes with a cowboy motif fill a dining room china closet.

It’s a setting born of Mrs. Thomas’ love of all things Western. Her husband, Robert, shares her passion. Together they have taken a number of trips to Indian reservations, national parks and other spots in that part of the country.

Needed tranquility

It’s relaxing, it’s filled with good memories, and it’s an antidote to the daily stresses from a challenging job and a debilitating illness, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, which is a rare disorder of the nervous system.

For the past 16 years, Mrs. Thomas has been a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit at Community Medical Center, caring for babies born prematurely or with various health problems. Many are in incubators, hooked up to a myriad of monitors and intravenous pumps.

“We hear mothers say, ‘I don’t feel like I’m doing anything for my baby. I feel helpless,’” Mrs. Thomas said. So the nurses do everything they can to help parents, encouraging them to hold their babies when it’s possible, and providing dim lighting and soft music for a soothing atmosphere.

“I like that it’s a challenging field. I like that we can give a chance to these sick babies who years ago would not have been able to live,” Mrs. Thomas said. “When you hold those little babies — and some of them can fit in the palm of your hand — it’s an incredible thing.”

The work is not without difficult moments. One, for Mrs. Thomas, is dealing with drug-addicted mothers whose babies go through withdrawal after they are born. “For the most part they (the mothers) are remorseful. Many are seeking treatment,” she said. “It’s hard not to be judgmental.”

But the rewards are many — from seeing babies go home with their families to seeing them return, as older children, for annual reunions sponsored by the hospital. “It’s amazing to see those kids come back to visit.”

An early experience with her own child helped her appreciate the work of nurses who care for children. When her son, Timothy, was 2, he developed kidney problems and spent a few months at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Mrs. Thomas was by her son’s side 24 hours a day. “I always felt the nurses were caring for me as much as they were for him,” she said, recalling one night when a group of nurses took her out to dinner for a much-needed break.

For the past few years, Mrs. Thomas has worked in the NICU despite some daunting physical challenges. She was diagnosed two years ago with reflex sympathetic dystrophy, also known as complex regional pain syndrome. It’s a disorder that is marked by severe, chronic pain in places like the arms, shoulders, hands, legs and skin that is so sensitive that even clothes cause burning pain. A year ago, Mrs. Thomas had a pump implanted in her abdomen to deliver medicine.

“It’s a chronic, disabling disease with no cure,” she said. Despite her diagnosis, she has not missed a day of work because of her symptoms. But she can no longer go on ambulance transports when babies need to be brought to CMC from other hospitals. Nor can she attend C-section deliveries or lift heavy items.

Husband a big plus

The pain is constant, but Mrs. Thomas credits her sense of humor and supportive co-workers with getting her through each work shift. She also relies on her husband. “He can make me laugh no matter how bad I feel,” she said.

The illness marked a turning point in her life. She appreciates her family and her neonatal work even more, and she looks forward to traveling as long as she is able. “Life is so short,” she said. “And since I got sick, I don’t think I’ll ever take anything for granted again.”

Contact the writer:

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Former county employee has lawsuit tossed

The Daily Journal, originally uploaded by rsdscrpsnews.

Former county employee has lawsuit tossed

By Michelle Durand
San Mateo County will not be held liable for wrongly accusing and charging a former employee who was unsuccessfully prosecuted for faking a severe wrist injury in 2001 to collect $99,000 in workers compensation benefits.

Judge Carol Mittlesteadt tossed the lawsuit by Sheryl and Robert Amaral against the county, ruling it has no liability in her battle against its workers’ compensation company. The claim against the company, Northern Claims Management, is still pending and the County Counsel’s Office is providing legal representation.

“There was a reasonable belief insurance fraud was being committed,” said Deputy County Counsel Raymond Swope. “There’s a reasonable belief where there’s smoke there’s fire.”

The Amarals can still appeal the decision and might seek a settlement straight from the Board of Supervisors instead of a return trip to court, said civil attorney Don Galine.

The couple filed the lawsuit last July after the District Attorney’s Office dropped fraud charges against the 58-year-old former disabled services advocate. The suit sought an unspecified amount for punitive and compensatory damages against San Mateo County and Northern Claims Management.

The couple claimed emotional and financial distress and also argues the county should have passed the criminal case to another jurisdiction because Amaral was one of its own employees.

Galine believes the county maliciously prosecuted Amaral to avoid paying her hefty workers’ compensation benefits for what he said is a legitimate injury.

Amaral spent 15 years working as a disability service advocate for the county until she severely injured her wrist in 2001, placing her in excruciating pain and keeping her at home on worker’s compensation payments. The “white-hot” pain traveled through her body and was finally identified as reflex sympathetic dystrophy, or RSD, Galine said.

The county, however, believed Amaral was faking her injury to collect benefits and charged her with fraud. To prove its case, the county and its claims administrator hired private investigators to follow Amaral and secretly videotape her lifting, driving and shopping. Galine said a doctor permitted the activity but prosecutors said her injury, if valid, would have not allowed the movement.

The surveillance and consequent prosecution caused Amaral economic and emotional damages, placing her name in the public spotlight and violating her civil rights, Galine contends.

In April, the District Attorney’s Office dropped the charges, citing insufficient evidence. Three months later, the couple filed their own suit.

Although the county has been removed, the suit is not finished until a judge decides whether the Amarals are liable for attorneys fees, Swope said.

Michelle Durand can be reached by e-mail: or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. What do you think of this story? Send a letter to the editor:

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

Mitch B. Glicken, originally uploaded by rsdscrpsnews.

Mitch B. Glicken

Services for Mitch B. Glicken, 43, of Savannah, Ga., formerly of Euclid, will be 11 a.m. Tuesday at Erieside Church on the Boulevard, 221 East 320th St., Willowick.

Mr. Glicken peacefully left this earth to be with his Lord and Savior on Feb. 26, 2006.

Mitch B. Glicken
Services for Mitch B. Glicken, 43, of Savannah, Ga., formerly of Euclid, will be 11 a.m. Tuesday at Erieside Church on the Boulevard, 221 East 320th St., Willowick.

Mr. Glicken peacefully left this earth to be with his Lord and Savior on Feb. 26, 2006.
Mitch was born Jan. 29, 1963, in East Cleveland.
He graduated from Euclid High School in 1981, and Ashland College (now Ashland University) in 1985. He majored in radio and television. He served as sports director of the college radio and television stations and was named the 1985 Most Outstanding Radio and Television Graduate.

Following graduation, Mr. Glicken became a news reporter with the local CBS affiliate WTOC television station in Savannah. In 1986, he was promoted to producer of "The News at 11" and "The News at 5:30." Always a sports fan, he was promoted to executive sports producer in 1987, and in 2000, he became executive news producer.
During his tenure with WTOC, Mitch was honored with more than 20 awards from the Georgia Associated Press. He was named Best Sportscaster in the "Savannah's Best" Poll in 1991 and 1992. His career with WTOC ended in 2005.

Since that time he had been pursuing a graduate degree in Pastoral Studies through Johnson Bible College. In addition, he had been an active volunteer with the Marriage Ministry, Savannah Men of Integrity, the Journey, and the Communications Committee at Savannah Christian Church. He was also president of the Communication Arts Parents Group at the Savannah Arts Academy. He was also an active member of the Savannah RSD Support Group.

Survivors are his wife of 19 years, Sandra (Schley); son, Matthew; mother and father, Carol and Joe Mazzola; father and mother, Bill and Patti Glicken; mother and father-in-law, Lew and Donna Schley; brothers, Joe (Mickie), Larry (Debbie) and John (Vicki) Glicken; sister, Julie (Rick) Oldorff; aunt, Barbara Fisher; and a host of cousins, nieces and nephews. He also leaves many dear friends who loved and supported him through the years.
Friends may call from 10 to 11 a.m. Tuesday at the church. The Rev. Larry A. Pozza will officiate at the services. Graveside services will be 12:30 p.m. Wednesday at Congress Community Cemetery in Congress Township.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association (RSDSA), P.O. Box 502, Milford, CT 06464, or Savannah Christian Church, Imagine Campaign "The LINK", 55 Al Henderson Blvd., Savannah, GA 31419.
Arrangements are being handled by Davis Funeral Home in Willoughby.

©The News-Herald 2006

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