Friday, November 30, 2012

Aspen settles with former employee who was assaulted by her supervisor

tdnBy Tony Lystra / The Daily News

Columbia, Oregon

Aspen dental, former employee reach settlement on eve of trial

A Longview dental clinic has reached a settlement with a former employee who claimed that she had a mental breakdown after her supervisor assaulted her in the workplace.

The settlement, the terms of which were not disclosed, came on Monday, the day the case was scheduled for a civil jury trial in Cowlitz County Superior Court.

Crystal M. Manes, who had been working as a dental assistant in Aspen Dental’s Ocean Beach Highway branch, sued the company, saying her supervisor slapped her on the arm on April 21, 2010. Manes said she had come to work early that day and, at around 5 p.m., informed the supervisor, Jessica Scruggs, that she was leaving for the day. Scruggs became angry because there were still patients waiting to be seen and, with an open palm, struck Manes in the left arm declaring, “Well then, go home,” according to the suit.

Aspen Dental’s attorneys contended that Scruggs may have touched Manes only while gesturing and that the impact could not have been enough to cause an injury.

Manes, however, said a black and blue bruise appeared on her arm that evening. Manes also said that she was later prescribed Xanax for panic attacks, according to court documents. On May 8, 2010, Manes was admitted to St. John Medical Center after “the combination of panic attacks and a reaction to the Xanax medication caused (her) to have a mental breakdown,” according to Manes’ lawsuit.

Manes, who was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder resulting from the incident, sued Aspen Dental for medical expenses, lost wages and “general damages,” court documents said.

Manes’ attorney, David Nelson of Longview, declined to disclose the terms of the settlement. Aspen Dental’s attorney, Douglas Parker of the firm Littler Mendelson in Portland, did not return a phone call Wednesday.

Aspen Dental is a national chain of dental offices with 340 branches in 22 states, according to the company’s public relations department.