Residents and ManorCare sue hospital

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One major nursing home provider has figured out a good way to avert harm from a group of residents suing it: The provider convinced the aggrieved individuals to team up with it in a lawsuit against a third party.

Residents of a North Dakota HCR ManorCare nursing home hit by hepatitis C dropped their lawsuit against the massive nursing home chain. Then they joined it in suing the hospital that provided phlebotomy and podiatry services.

In an amended lawsuit filed in early March, 21 victims of the 2013 hepatitis C outbreak at ManorCare Health Services-Minot said they now focus the blame on contracted services provider Trinity Health. 

They allege Trinity “ignored and covered up” misconduct by its staff that led to the disease's spread. The new lawsuit also includes wrongful death claims against Trinity for at least three people who contracted hepatitis C during the outbreak, which affected more than 40 residents overall.

Trinity provided blood and podiatry services at the facility.

“The victims looked at the evidence, and withdrew their earlier claims against ManorCare,” Mike Kendall, lead attorney for ManorCare, said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for Trinity told McKnight's the company would “respond in court” to the amended lawsuit.

ManorCare has accused Trinity of causing the outbreak by failing to train its phlebotomists and ignoring suspicions that employees were re-using needles used to draw blood.

“Trinity is the common link to all of the infected patients,” said Gordon Rudd, an attorney for the victims. “All of our clients relied on Trinity for medical care. Now, they have hepatitis C, and many of them can't afford the drugs they need.”

ManorCare officials said the outbreak and subsequent lawsuits led them to sell the facility for $15 million less than it was worth. They said they plan to seek punitive damages against Trinity.