Special Hearing Held in Hepatitis C Exposure Case - 8 News NOW

Adrienne Augustus, Reporter

Special Hearing Held in Hepatitis C Exposure Case

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Attorneys representing both sides in the Endoscopy Center hepatitis exposure case met Friday with a special hearing master to decide how to move forward with the lawsuits against the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada and the center's owners.

This was a special hearing -- it was not a trial. The judge was actually a special hearing master, like a moderator. This was an opportunity for both the plaintiffs' and defendants' attorneys to begin hashing out some technical points in the cases.

But Friday morning, one big issue was taken on -- does this case qualify for class-action status. Cases have been filed but they must meet specific requirements before a judge can certify it. Defense attorneys are already arguing against it.

In front of a special hearing master, about 25 attorneys for the plaintiffs and about 15 for the defendants ironed out the steps they plan to take that will get their clients their day in curt.

High profile class action attorney Will Kemp and other attorneys for the plaintiffs faced defense attorneys, debating the release of records. The naming of defendants and a time line for presenting evidence.

"Our whole plan here is to figure out when we can get some of these infected persons to trial because... and it just seems that it's more fair to the infected persons who are seriously injured, some of them are saying, have rights, and some are very elderly, to trial dates quicker than the not infected persons," said Kemp.

Attorneys for the defense argued they had not been properly notified of who exactly was being sued by exactly which clients, and for exactly what complaints. They also said it was not yet clear to them if the merits of the case warrant class action status.

Meanwhile on "Face to Face With John Ralston," one of the newly appointed doctors on the Board of Medical Examiners was careful to reserve his judgment for the day the cases finally get to court.

"There has been no sworn testimony, as far as I'm concerned, that implicates any one individual so as a temporary board member looking at this case, I have to be real careful and say these are allegations," said Dr. Ron Kline.

For now, the attorneys will interview the doctors and the plaintiffs and see if they can finally get a hold of the medical records that will let them move forward with the case.

The special hearing master granted the defense their request to interview 30 plaintiffs to see if each one's circumstances are different enough to argue against class action status.

The defense attorneys can interview the four doctors who own the Endoscopy Center, but the doctors can plead the fifth, to keep from saying anything that can be used against them in the criminal investigation.

Email your comments to Reporter Adrienne Augustus.
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