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Monday, June 24, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

$24 Million Award in Hepatitis C Case

LAS VEGAS (CN) - Nevada's largest health management organization owes $24 million to three plaintiffs for negligence in a hepatitis C outbreak in 2008, a state court jury ruled.

Robert Eglet, attorney for plaintiffs Bonnie and Carl Brunson, said he will ask the jury of three men and five women to hold Health Plan of Nevada and Sierra Health Services responsible for another $1 billion in punitive damages.

Plaintiffs Helen Meyer, 76, and Bonnie Brunson, 70, were infected with hepatitis C while undergoing treatment at a Dipak Desai clinic in 2005.

The jury awarded Brunson $12 million, her husband, Carl, $3 million, and Meyer $9 million.

Desai was not named as a defendant in the civil lawsuit.

He has denied wrongdoing, but faces trial in state court this month and in Federal Court in May on separate charges stemming from the hepatitis C outbreak.

The health fiasco became public in early 2008 and prompted the Southern Nevada Health District to notify more than 50,000 patients to get tested for blood borne-diseases.

Investigators traced the infections of nine people who had procedures in 2007 to Desai's endoscopy clinics.

Eglet and Will Kemp, Meyer's lawyer, took on pharmaceutical companies in 2011 and won hundreds of millions of dollars, claiming the companies provided unnecessarily large vials of Propofol to Desai clinics, which were reused with multiple patients.

"The insurance companies are making hundreds of billions of dollars every year, and yet the public is not getting quality health care," Eglet told The Associated Press. "And doctors aren't being fairly paid, so they have to take on too many patients to make a living."

Lead defense attorney D. Lee Roberts said he would appeal.

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