A nurse is suing the president of West Virginia Media Holdings, claiming, among other things, that he pulled hair out of her head after he got angry during a medical screening needed for a life insurance policy.
In the lawsuit filed Monday in Kanawha Circuit Court, Melinda Heiss and her husband, George, say they should be awarded damages from emotional distress caused by Bray Cary’s alleged attack.
On April 9, 2012, Melinda Heiss met Cary at WOWK-TV — one of the television stations owned by Cary’s company, which is also a defendant in the lawsuit — for an appointment he had scheduled, according to the complaint filed by Charleston attorneys Ed ReBrook and Mike Clifford on behalf of the Heisses. At the time, Melinda Heiss worked as a registered nurse for Portamedic, a national company that performs medical tests for insurance and other companies.
The two went into a small office at the station, where Heiss was to perform the examination, according to the complaint. Heiss took Cary’s vital signs and a vial of his blood as part of a medical screening required to obtain a life insurance policy. Halfway through the screening, the complaint states, Cary got angry and told Heiss he had previously answered the questions she was asking.
Heiss says she explained to Cary that Portamedic required her to follow certain procedures during a screening. But Cary “became very hostile and belligerent,” according to the suit.
Heiss then packed her equipment and prepared to leave, but Cary “stood in front of the closed office door and told [Heiss] that she was ‘not going anywhere’ until she gave him back the vial of blood, and refused to allow her to leave the office,” the complaint states. That constitutes unlawful restraint, the lawsuit claims.
While Heiss was on her cell phone talking to the secretary at her office, Cary “grabbed the phone from her hand, pulling hair out of her head.” according to the complaint.
While Cary had her cell phone, Heiss managed to exit the building. She later re- entered the WOWK-TV building on Quarrier Street and asked a man to retrieve her cell phone from Cary, the complaint states.
“At this point, Defendant Cary came running toward her and shoved another phone in her face, telling her to talk to his insurance agent,” the complaint states. “When she began telling the agent what had happened, Defendant Cary again grabbed the phone from her hand pulling additional hair from her head and screamed into the phone, “. . . there was no lock on that door.”
The lawsuit states that Cary’s insurance agent “pleaded with [Heiss] to finish the physical examination or, at the very least, get a urine sample.”
Heiss agreed to gather a urine sample, but wouldn’t finish the examination, according to the complaint. She got a urine collection cup from her car and gave it to Cary, the lawsuit states.
“Rather than retreating to the men’s restroom, Defendant Cary went inside an office, urinated in the cup, and returned with his trousers visibly unzipped and was very rude and insulting when he gave [Heiss] the sample,” the lawsuit states.
Heiss claims in her lawsuit she quit her job after the alleged incident because of emotional distress. Her complaint states a psychiatrist diagnosed her to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Cary couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday. A woman who answered the phone at West Virginia Media Holdings said he wouldn’t be back in the office until Monday and said there was no other way to reach him, and that she did not know who his lawyer is.
Besides WOWK, West Virginia Media Holdings includes WBOY-TV in Clarksburg, WVNS-TV in Beckley and WTRF-TV in Wheeling, as well as The State Journal business newspaper and the WVIllustrated.com website.
Reach Kate White at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1723.