Court OK's Class Action Over Syphilis Treatment
(CN) - A California appeals court ruled that syphilis patients could proceed with a class action accusing the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center of distributing the wrong kind of penicillin.
George Bomersheim and three other patients filed the negligence class action against the medical center.
Dr. Robert Bolan, the center's medical director, admitted in a deposition that the center gave Bicillin C-R (short- and long-acting penicillin), rather than the correct Bicillin L-A (long-acting penicillin) to more than 600 patients.
The center contacted more than 400 of those patients and retreated them with the correct medicine.
The trial court refused to certify the class action, ruling that the cases must be tried individually because "some persons may suffer little to no discomfort, while other may be more severely affected" during treatment.
On appeal, the Los Angeles-based 2nd District Court of Appeal overturned the decision and ruled that the plaintiffs' class should be certified.
"Issues subject to common proof include those of duty, breach, and causation. Though damages are not subject to common proof, they are susceptible to streamlined determination," Justice Victoria Chaney wrote. "We therefore conclude class treatment would be a superior method of resolving the claims."