Las Vegas—UnitedHealth Group HMOs could face more than a half-billion dollars in damages for their alleged role in the hepatitis infection of one of their clients, as jury selection is scheduled to begin in a Nevada negligence suit October 20. Bernard Paul v. Health Plan of Nevada Inc., et al.
Bernard Paul claims the insurers, including Sierra Health Services, Inc. and Health Plan of Nevada, Inc., referred him under his coverage plan to an endoscopy clinic they should have known used dangerous medical practices that ultimately infected him with hepatitis C, a life-threatening liver disease.
Paul’s suit is one of several Nevada cases stemming from the arrest and conviction of Dr. Dipak Desai, who ran the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center. Desai was sentenced to life in prison after a state investigation found that his clinic reused biopsy equipment, spreading hepatitis C among his patients. Some of those patients, like Paul, were referred to the clinic by the insurers, which are subsidiaries of healthcare conglomerate UnitedHealth Group.
The Paul case turns in part on the insurers’ duty to their insureds and whether they should have known that Desai’s clinic, as an approved provider under their coverage plans, followed dangerous and illegal medical practices.
Plaintiffs have won earlier CVN-broadcast suits against the insurers for their role in Desai’s spread of hepatitis C. In 2013, a jury awarded Helen Meyer $524 million after finding the insurers liable for sending Meyer to Desai’s clinic, where she contracted hepatitis. Helen Meyer v. Health Plan of Nevada Inc., et al. Last April, Gwendolyn Martin and her husband won more than $1.2 million in a similar suit against the insurers. Gwendolyn Martin v. Pacificare of Nevada, Inc., et al.
CVN will broadcast live and on-demand gavel-to-gavel coverage of this key insurance trial to its subscribers.