Lawsuit Filed Over Hepatitis-C Outbreak - - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Lawsuit Filed Over Hepatitis-C Outbreak

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A lawsuit has been filed in federal court on behalf of people infected with Hepatitis-C in the Minot outbreak.

44 people contracted the disease, making the outbreak the second-largest in the nation.

Papers were filed this afternoon in US District Court in Bismarck, alleging that ManorCare Health Services of Minot is responsible for spreading the virus to residents of that facility.

Mike Miller of the Solberg, Stewart, Miller Law Firm in Fargo says the suit seeks to be a class action representing patients who contracted Hepatitis-C while receiving treatment at Manor Care.

Two people, Lilas Guttormson and John Fenner are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Miller says he is hopeful that US District Judge Daniel Hovland will certify the lawsuit as a class action, but he says a decision is likely to take months.

The attorney says the legal action may drag out -- or be over quickly.

(Mike Miller, Solberg, Stewart, Miller Law Firm) "These types of cases can be drawn out. It's really going to depend upon how receptive ManorCare is to stepping up to the plate sooner rather than later to say something bad happened here to our people and we're going to make it right. That' can take a long, long time or really it can be fairly quick."

Miller attended a meeting tonight of victims of the Hepatitis-C outbreak and their families.

The meeting featured Dr. Casmiar Nwaigwe, director of Trinity Hospital's infectious disease department.

The group is hoping to convince the state Health Department to continue its investigation of the outbreak, since the department has been unable to determine exactly how the victims were infected.

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