AUGUSTA — A mental health worker injured 15 months ago when she was assaulted by a patient at Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta is suing the patient for money to cover her medical bills, lost wages and other damages.

Sally Nichols, of New Sharon, has won a judge’s approval for a $100,000 attachment on any property owned by Arlene Marie Edson, 33, who is serving a four-year prison term for that assault and three others. Edson herself sued the state hospital in federal court over being pepper-sprayed there and received $180,000 last summer to settle her claims.

Arlene Edson

Edson pleaded guilty to the four assault charges last January and is now at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham.

A lawsuit filed by Nichols’ attorney, Roger Katz, describes the July 18, 2016, attack on Nichols, who was working on the Lower Saco unit at Riverview.

It quotes Nichols as saying, “Without cause and without provocation, (Edson) assaulted me by slugging me in the area of my right eye.”

Edson had been placed at the state hospital after being found not criminally responsible in 2011 of arson and assault.

“The defendant assaulted Sally from behind – it was a totally unprovoked attack on a defenseless woman,” Katz wrote in an email sent Tuesday. “The defendant had some mental health issues but clearly knew just what she is doing. Sally has some lasting and permanent health issues now and the defendant bears responsibility.”

The lawsuit says that as a result of assault, Nichols was injured seriously and now suffers from “continuous headaches that range anywhere from 6-9 on a scale of 10.” She says she takes up to 10 ibuprofen a day for headaches.

Nichols is seeking punitive damages.

Justice William Stokes, who has been assigned to the case, ordered the attachment on Edson’s property.

Edson’s attorney, Amber L. Tucker, in a response to the lawsuit, says the defendant admits being an involuntary patient at Riverview and being charged and sentenced for the assaults – including the one on Nichols – but “is without knowledge” regarding other items in the lawsuit.

Tucker did not respond to requests for comment.

Edson previously spent 18 months in prison for assaulting another hospital worker in similar circumstances on Dec. 11, 2014. In that case, the prosecutor told the judge that the victim was standing at a desk in the common area “when Edson came up behind her and hit her in the head a number of times. Edson said she’d continue to do it unless she got what she wanted.” The hospital staff interpreted that to mean that Edson wanted to be placed at a prison rather than a hospital.

To date, Edson has a dozen assault convictions.

Riverview, the 92-bed psychiatric hospital that replaced the Augusta Mental Health Institute, has had a series of problems over the past years, including a number of assaults by patients on nurses and mental health workers. Many of the patients were prosecuted criminally and, like Edson, now are serving time in prison.