In a lawsuit filed in 2017 against psychologist Dr. Eric Cerwonka, a Terrebonne Parish jury awarded $1,150,000 to a 35-year-old Houma man. The plaintiff said he suffered emotional abuse from Cerwonka, according to the news article in a March issue of The Houma Courier.
The plaintiff’s case was tried by Jerri and Maxwell Smitko of the Smitko Law firm, in Houma, Louisiana.
According to the Courier, Jerri Smitko said that some of Dr. Cerwonka’s mental abuse included forms of brainwashing.
“He wrongfully attempted to convince my client that he had been abused by family members,” Smitko told the Courier reporter, Dan Copp.
Copp reported that the legal complaint alleged that the plaintiff had been in therapy with Dr. Cerwonka in early 2017, during the time that the defendant’s license to practice had been suspended.
However, other sources indicate that while Dr. Cerwonka‘s license had been suspended following a January 2017 hearing held by the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, he retained his license because he immediately appealed the decision. According to state records, Cerwonka‘s license is currently in effect in both Louisiana and New York.
The Courier report notes that the Houma man’s legal complaint included the following:
• “Dr. Cerwonka‘s advice during this time reflected the obvious tumult in his practice, as he advised plaintiff to live in his car and fight his father.”
• “When plaintiff learned of Dr. Cerwonka‘s suspension he reached out to him for clarification. In retaliation, Dr. Cerwonka threatened to have the plaintiffs subject to a civil commitment.“
Dr. Cerwonka has been involved in legal matters since 2017, when the psychology board decided to remove his license. He immediately filed an appeal and alleged several due process violations.
In August 2017, he also filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court Western District of Louisiana Lafayette division. In his complaint, Cerwonka and his attorneys allege that the board acted on an interim basis before any hearing had taken place, that Cerwonka was denied a proper opportunity to defend himself against specific charges, that an emergency action was taken because he exercised his right to free speech, and that evidence was manipulated and obtained illegally.
Among these and other violations of his rights, he and his attorneys also allege that because the prosecuting attorney for the board had previously represented Cerwonka in a hotly contested custody battle, and that the attorney had information that was, allegedly, used in the prosecution, the attorney should have been removed.
The due process lawsuit is scheduled for next month and based on an unopposed motion by Ms. Jaime Monic and her attorneys, was changed from a bench trial to a jury trial.