Las Vegas Hepatitis Scare Class Action Lawsuit Not Certified by Court
Nevada District Judge Alan Earl, who is presiding over the Las Vegas endoscopy clinic lawsuits filed as a result of unsafe medical practices that caused over 100 people to develop Hepatitis C, has denied a request to certify a class action lawsuit for thousands of former patients who are claiming emotional distress stemming from the testing they underwent after discovering the problems at the clinics.
In August 2008, Judge Earl ruled that cases for individuals who are pursuing lawsuits for emotional distress, but who have not actually been diagnosed with hepatitis or another disease, would be permitted to continue. However, the Las Vegas Review Journal reports that on November 4, 2008, the Judge indicated that every case will have to be pursued individually.
This will likely make it not economically feasible for most of the emotional distress lawsuits to continue.
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Between 2004 and 2008, several thousand people treated at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada and Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center, were exposed to unsafe medical practices, including reuse of syringes and vials of medication intended for only single use.
In February 2008, health officials shut the clinics down after identifying the problems, and over 40,000 former patients were advised by the Southern Nevada Health District to get tested for potentially fatal blood-borne diseases like Hepatitis C or HIV.
About 6,000 individuals treated at the clinic who were never actually diagnosed with an infection have retained personal injury lawyers to pursue claims for the emotional distress they experienced while waiting for the test results.
While plaintiffs’ lawyers requested class action status so that all of the claims could be heard as one lawsuit, Judge Earl ruled that individual lawsuits are necessary because not all of the non-infected patients had the same experiences as a result of the emotional distress.
According to local health officials, there are at least 114 confirmed cases of the Hepatitis C virus identified among former patients at the Las Vegas Clinics, and most of those victims have already filed lawsuits. Hepatitis C is a very serious infectious disease, which can lead to inflammation of the liver, liver cancer, cirrhosis of the liver or even death.
There are concerns among those involved in the litigation about whether the defendants even have sufficient insurance coverage and assets to satisfy all of the lawsuits filed for individuals diagnosed with infections, as the clinic’s insurance policy is only $3 million.
With every case for emotional distress forced to proceed as an individual lawsuit, many of these former patients will likely elect not to pursue their nominal claims, as they may only be entitled to a few hundred dollars each out of the available insurance coverage.
New Jersey Hepatitis Outbreak Linked to One Oncologist - AboutLawsuits.comApril 3, 2009 at 5:23 pm
[...] number of hepatitis lawsuits were filed in Nevada by individuals who were treated at the Las Vegas clinics, including 6,000 people who were not [...]
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