- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 13, 2017

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - A legal battle involving one of the largest hepatitis C outbreaks in recent U.S. history continues even after nearly two dozen victims settled their claims last year against a Minot hospital.

ManorCare Health Services, a nursing home, is seeking punitive damages against Trinity Health, which it blames for causing the 2013 outbreak through drug diversion and reuse of needles by an outreach phlebotomist, the Minot Daily News (https://bit.ly/2rdrvJ3 ) reported.

The hospital says there is a lack of evidence and suggests the nursing home created its own problems.

More than 50 patients were infected with a genetically similar strain of hepatitis C, and most spent time at the nursing home.

Hepatitis victims initially filed against both Trinity and ManorCare but dropped their claims against the nursing home in June 2016 to focus on the hospital. Trinity reached a confidential settlement with more than 20 plaintiffs near the end of 2016.

One claim is still pending after the settlement. Last October, attorneys representing Mark Krebsbach filed to intervene in the lawsuit. That portion of the case, as well as ManorCare’s claim of business damages against Trinity, continues.

The hospital sought to obtain communications between ManorCare and plaintiffs who have settled as well as between the nursing home and the Minot Action Network and the Markham Group or Bruce Sinclair.

The Markham Group is a public relations agency, and the Minot Action Network is a local advocacy group that has been involved in a public information campaign that includes a demand that the community be offered free hepatitis C testing.

The nursing home sought an injunction to mandate the hospital test its employees and patients. Trinity contends the nursing home also has been colluding with the Minot Action Network to pressure the hospital into conducting widespread testing. The hospital alleged the intent is to taint the jury pool in Minot.

ManorCare removed its request for a testing mandate, which rendered the hospital’s request for communications between the nursing home and the action network largely moot.

A pretrial conference is scheduled June 30.

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Information from: Minot Daily News, https://www.minotdailynews.com

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