Court Date Set for First Hep C Case - 8 News NOW

Aaron Drawhorn, Reporter

Court Date Set for First Hep C Case

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"I was the first one that set the stage. They did not know anything," said Michael Washington. "I was the first one that set the stage. They did not know anything," said Michael Washington.

The courts have been flooded with lawsuits and now the first trial has been scheduled against the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada.

The first patient shown to be infected in the hepatitis outbreak will have his day in court next year. It's a case that could set a precedent for hundreds of others treated at the clinics that used dangerous injection practices.

The word came down late Wednesday -- the first of what could be many trials in this unprecedented case will take place a year from October.

The victim says justice must be served. "I was the first one that set the stage. They did not know anything," said Michael Washington.

Washington never imagined a routine visit to a doctor's office would give him a potentially deadly disease, "He said, 'Good morning, I'm Dr. Desai. I'm here to do the exam.' and then everything proceeded."

Tests by the Centers for Disease Control indicate Washington was the first patient infected at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada. His life changed after his July 25, 2007 appointment.

After losing about 40 pounds, Washington was shocked and in fear, "I became very upset, and I guess with my wife's help, I kind of calmed down and realized that we just have to accept that fact and live with it."

Michael's wife of nearly 30 years, Josephine, is a retired nurse and can't understand how Dr. Dipak Desai could run a practice of dangerous medicine, "I was angry really, truly angry, because it was so unnecessary. That's nursing 101 -- medicine 101. You're taught certain things on how to handle a syringe, not reusing syringes."

Ed Bernstein represents Washington in a trial that will be closely watched, "It's going to engage what the elements of damages are for subsequent cases. Mr. Washington has a very, very significant case."

For now Washington is waiting for his day in court, "Let's get it finished. That's the way I feel."

To make matters worse, treatment is not an option for Washington because of his diabetes and glaucoma. The trial begins October 19, 2009.

Through all the testing that's been done, there have been nine confirmed cases. Eight at the Endoscopy Center on Shadow Lane, including Mr. Washington, and one at the Desert Shadow clinic on Burnham.

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