Man acquitted in threats case sues Highland Hospital
09/17/2013 - The Charleston Gazette. By Kate White.
CHARLESTON - The man acquitted of making threats to shoot up a Sissonville High School football game is suing Highland Hospital over the release of what he claims is confidential information.
During his June trial, prosecutors said Shawn P. Foglesong, 40, told his counselor at Highland Hospital that he had thoughts of "killing someone, up close and personal" and that alone constituted the charge of making terroristic threats.
His counselor alerted a police officer at the school, and Foglesong was arrested. He was incarcerated for more than nine months until a jury found him not guilty, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Kanawha County Circuit Court, says the hospital breached confidentiality and invaded Foglesong's privacy, among other things.
On Sept. 13, 2012, Foglesong was involuntarily committed to the adult unit of the hospital, according to the complaint. Part of his treatment plans included counseling and therapy.
Information obtained by counselors was confidential, the lawsuit states, citing a West Virginia law that reads, "Communications and information obtained in the course of treatment or evaluation of any client or patient are confidential information."
Prosecutors argued during Foglesong's trial, though, that the information is confidential except when there's a reason to "protect against a clear and substantial danger of imminent injury by a patient or client to himself, herself or another."
The lawsuit states, that Foglesong "could not have been discharged by Highland Hospital on Sept. 28, 2012, if he presented a clear and substantial danger of imminent injury to himself or others on that date."
He was arrested the day after he was released from the hospital, his attorney said during his trial.
Charleston attorney Mark Atkinson is representing Foglesong in the lawsuit. He could not be reached for comment Friday.
No one from the hospital returned a phone call Friday.
Kanawha County Assistant Prosecutor Michele Drummond told jurors that, on Sept. 14, Foglesong told his Highland Hospital counselor, Jonathan Proctor, that he was having homicidal thoughts and "thinking of killing someone, up close and personal."
Foglesong told Proctor that he was scared he might wear a mask to a Sissonville High School football game and open fire, hoping to commit suicide by drawing police fire, Drummond told the jury. Foglesong allegedly said he wanted to commit the violent act around Halloween, when no one would question his wearing a mask.
Defense attorney John Sullivan told jurors that Foglesong was afraid of his thoughts, and was confiding them to his counselor in an attempt to get better.
"Shawn did not commit a crime in the therapy room at Highland Hospital," Sullivan said during closing arguments.