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Published: Saturday, 10/16/2004

Local psychiatrist disputes diagnosis in Skiadas case

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Testifying in the civil trial of Carty Finkbeiner, a psychiatrist said John Skiadas wasn't traumatized from a confrontation with the then-mayor four years ago in the Erie Street Market.

Dr. Charles Burke said Mr. Skiadas, owner of Pepe's Mexican Restaurant & Cantina in West Toledo, didn't suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, which the restaurateur claims was caused by Mr. Finkbeiner yelling, cursing, and using his hands and fingers to assault him on the chest and head.

A psychiatrist and a psychologist testified earlier during the trial in Lucas County Common Pleas Court that Mr. Skiadas was shell-shocked from the July 14, 2000, incident.

But Dr. Burke, who testified for attorneys representing Mr. Finkbeiner, said Mr. Skiadas suffered a less serious psychological condition.

The conclusions from Dr. Burke, a Perrysburg psychiatrist, were reached after an evaluation of Mr. Skiadas in August and reviewing his medical records, including the records of evaluations conducted by Dr. Thomas Sherman, a Toledo psychiatrist, and psychologist Gerald Briskin.

Both men testified that Mr. Skiadas thought Mr. Finkbeiner was a close friend who could assist him with problems he was having in opening a second Pepe's at the market.

They said the incident traumatized Mr. Skiadas, who, along with his wife, Georgette Skiadas, sued Mr. Finkbeiner and the city for emotional stress, claiming damages in excess of $25,000.

Judge Charles Wittenberg, who is presiding over the trial, dismissed the city as a defendant in the lawsuit on Wednesday. Only two claims against Mr. Finkbeiner - battery and intentional infliction of emotional stress - remain for Judge Wittenberg to decide.

Dr. Burke said he did not believe Mr. Skiadas was malingering for the lawsuit. "I did not feel he was consciously attempting to lie. I don't believe he was deliberately attempting faking illness to gain money."

Instead of being traumatized, Mr. Skiadas went into a defensive mode that engaged a personality trait that caused him to subconsciously believe he was sick, Dr. Burke testified.

"In effect, he mobilized his narcissistic defenses to engage into a sick role. He had two choices. He was a defective, worthless person or a sick, worthless person," he said.

In disputing the diagnosis of the psychologist and the psychiatrist, Dr. Burke said it was uncharacteristic of someone inflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder to willingly discuss the incident that caused the trauma as Mr. Skiadas did during his evaluations.

"Mr. Skiadas appeared to be eager to discuss the incident," he said. "Typically, this doesn't happen. They will avoid even discussing it, even if you try pulling it out of them."

The trial recessed yesterday afternoon before Mr. and Mrs. Skiadas' attorney, John Potts, could ask questions of Dr. Burke. He will be unable to testify again until Wednesday.

Mr. Finkbeiner's attorneys are expected to call other witnesses on Monday.

Contact Mark Reiter at:

markreiter@theblade.com

or 419-724-6009.



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