Insurance Company for Dr. Desai Denies Liability - 8 News NOW

Edward Lawrence, Reporter

Insurance Company for Dr. Desai Denies Liability

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Two major decisions Tuesday in the civil lawsuit surrounding the hepatitis-C crisis. One decision concerns whether attorneys can sue the company that insures the doctors. They also made a decision about whether a class action lawsuit can go forward.

First, the judge ruled that attorneys could not sue Nevada Mutual Insurance Company for the practices of Dr. Dipak Desai and the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada. The judge took great care when announcing his decision because of the magnitude and passion of the case.

"Sometimes that pressure can skew the reasoning process. The Court has to be careful about that," said Judge Allan Earl, District Court Judge.

He told attorneys it would set a bad precedent if he allowed the case to go forward. He says any patient could sue any hospital's insurance company and points out the insurance company does not treat patients -- they only assess the risk of the doctor being sued.

Attorneys for Nevada Mutual Insurance Company agree. "The fact that the insurance company goes into to do an inspection does not necessarily equate to liability. They do not do it for the benefit of the patient. They are doing it to assess the risks," said Alice Campos Mercado, Nevada Mutual attorney.

"This is why I think NMIC might be fighting extremely hard, because they do not want the public to know that Desai wrote his own policies, insured himself without any oversight," said Robert Cottle, patients' attorney.

It's also a decision about money. Malpractice awards by state law are capped against doctors at $350,000 for each case. This lawsuit against the insurance company removes that cap because it is not for malpractice but failing to police the doctor's practices.

The judge also looked at the class action lawsuit against the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada and its owner Dr. Desai.

Attorneys are still arguing if the class action lawsuit should go forward.

Email your comments to Reporter Edward Lawrence.

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