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Centra Health, Commonwealth want $100 M lawsuit, related to 2016 shooting, thrown out

Dramatic surveillance video shows what happened in 2016 when a Centra security guard shot Jonathan Warner four times, leaving him paralyzed (Photo: WSET)

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) -- Centra is responding through court documents after a patient, who was shot in one of its facilities, filed a $100 million civil suit.

Court documents filed earlier this month are from Centra, the state of Virginia, and Baskervill Architecture, the company hired to design the psychiatric facility at Lynchburg General Hospital.

All claim they are not at fault for anything that happened, after being sued by the family of Jonathan Warner.

A security guard shot Warner multiple times during a struggle last year at the Psychiatric Emergency Center, which is now closed.

Hours before the shooting, Warner's mother admitted him for emergency psychiatric treatment.

After evaluating all of the evidence, Lynchburg Commonwealth's Attorney Michael Doucette decided not to press charges against the security guard or Warner, saying the video shows the security guard was acting in self-defense, after Warner attempted to lunge at him.

Now, over a year after Doucette's decision, the Warner family is suing all three parties for "negligence."

"He had been subject to an emergency custody order, which demands he be transported to a licensed property," says Paul Valois, the family's attorney. "He instead was transported to a new facility that wasn't properly licensed, once there, he was exposed to weapons when Centra had been specifically put on notice not to allow weapons in the facility."

Valois is suing Baskervill for "negligent design of the construction of the facility" and the Commonwealth of Virginia for "negligence in ensuring Centra had properly licensed the facility."

"I'm not sure that's enough money frankly, Jonathan is a paraplegic who lives in agony every day," Valois said. "We're seeking to, not only recover monetary damages for Jonathan, more importantly we're seeking to change the system."

Baskervill responded in court documents saying it denies the company was negligent or that any action or interaction by Baskervill directly or proximately caused Warner's injuries.

The Commonwealth submitted a Demuirrer and Plea in Bar based upon sovereign immunity in response to Warner's complaint and said it was immune from any claim of liability.

The state is asking a judge to dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning it can’t be brought back to court.

The state, represented by the attorney general’s office, claims Virginia can’t be held liable in the suit based on sovereign immunity, according to the documents.

Centra Health is also asking for the suit against them to be dismissed.

In court documents, Centra said Warner’s suit claims “structural, security, and institutional failings” that allegedly caused Warner to suffer injuries, “none of which, either individually or collectively, state actionable negligence against Centra under Virginia law.”

The family filed the lawsuit at the Richmond Circuit Court, but Warner's attorney said the case may be moved to Lynchburg.

There is no set court date at this time.

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