Residents drop suit, team up with ManorCare to sue hospital in hepatitis C case

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All claims against HCR ManorCare in the hepatitis C case have been were withdrawn or dismissed
All claims against HCR ManorCare in the hepatitis C case have been were withdrawn or dismissed

Residents of a North Dakota HCR ManorCare nursing home hit by hepatitis C have dropped their lawsuit — and in turn joined the large provider chain in suing the hospital that provided phlebotomy and podiatry services.

In an amended lawsuit filed Tuesday, 21 victims of the 2013 hepatitis C outbreak at ManorCare Health Services - Minot focused the blame on Trinity Health. They said Trinity “ignored and covered up” misconduct by its staff that lead 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.

More than 40 residents were infected with hepatitis C during the outbreak. The victims' original suits targeted both ManorCare and Trinity, which provided blood and podiatry services at the facility.

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

A spokeswoman for Trinity told McKnight's the company will “respond in court” to the amended lawsuit, but declined further comment.

In an October court filing, ManorCare 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, attorney for the victims, in a statement. “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.”

The victims and their representatives said they are seeking money from Trinity to cover the costs of their hepatitis medications and treatments, personal injury claims and wrongful death claims. The lawsuit also requests that Trinity provides free hepatitis C testing to all people who received care or worked for the company between 2010 and now.

ManorCare said the outbreak and subsequent lawsuits led it to sell the facility for $15 million less than it was worth. It said it plans to seek punitive damages against Trinity.

The Minot hepatitis C outbreak accounted for a quarter of all cases of the disease since 2008, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.