Defendants In Hepatitis C Case Seek to Delay Discovery
Twenty-five civil cases have been filed in New Hampshire against Exeter Hospital, alleging a hospital employee knowingly infected patients with the Hepatitis C virus after using needles on himself and reusing the same needles on patients. An attorney for the defendant hospital filed a motion for stay of discovery.
According to the defense, the basis for the request for stay was that “given the sheer number of actions pending in this court about this subject matter, it would be a waste of resources to allow discovery in each individual case to proceed separately. The twenty-five writs include similar allegations; insofar as the claims of negligence against the defendants are concerned, the evidence in all twenty-five cases will be identical. In these circumstances, the most logical way to proceed is to consolidate the cases for discovery.” The defense also argued that the case may head to mediation, and discovery would be unnecessary.
Plaintiff trial attorney Mark Abramson, who represents 13 of the 25 victims, objected to delayed discovery as he already agreed to wait 60 days to try mediation, which the defendant cancelled at the last minute. He also argued that each victim has a unique set of circumstances, documentation and witnesses, even though the resulting injuries are similar.
It appears that even if the court agrees discovery should be consolidated, there is no reason to delay the process as witnesses’ memories fade and electronic data discovery could be deleted or destroyed in the meantime. The defense argument of future mediation also seems to be a red herring, as discovery may be necessary for mediation, as well as litigation.
In addition to the 25 individual civil cases against the hospital, a class action lawsuit has also been filed. Not all the 169 patients in the class action contracted the virus, but they allege to have been exposed to dirty needles by the hospital employee and suffered extreme emotional distress and trauma from living with the fear of contracting the virus and testing positive in the future.
For information about our plaintiff electronic discovery services in both individual and class actions, call us directly at 888-313-4457.