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Insurers’ Trial Begins In Hepatitis Outbreak

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File photo of courtroom.(Photo by Spencer Weiner-Pool/Getty Images)

File photo of courtroom.(Photo by Spencer Weiner-Pool/Getty Images)

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Nevada jury is due to hear opening statements in a civil trial seeking millions of dollars in damages from health insurance companies accused of failing to protect patients from infection during a hepatitis C outbreak traced to a Las Vegas outpatient clinic.

Attorneys representing two women who contracted the incurable liver disease accuse six insurance firms and health maintenance organizations of sending them to endoscopy clinics owned by former physician Dipak Desai.

Desai is facing trial in state and federal court on separate criminal charges for what prosecutors allege was a penny-pinching scheme that endangered patients by reusing anesthetic vials and surgical instruments.

Desai denies wrongdoing.

Health Plan of Nevada and the other defendants argue that Desai is to blame for patient infections, not them.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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