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UnitedHealth loses malpractice lawsuit

UnitedHealth Group, a national provider of health insurance to residents of Ohio, Kentucky and other states, was recently ordered to pay $500 million in punitive damages to plaintiffs in a Las Vegas civil lawsuit. The three plaintiffs, who will share the hospital malpractice damage award, had claimed that the company contracted with a clinic whose practices infected the victims with hepatitis.

The original lawsuit requested $2.5 billion in damages. Instead, the jury awarded $270 million in damages from the state health plan and $230 million from the parent company that managed the clinic. Plaintiffs are said to be pleased with the settlement even though it was a fraction of the requested amount.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs stated that money was not the primary motive for filing the lawsuit. Instead, they wanted to send a message to healthcare companies that profits cannot be put ahead of quality healthcare. The plaintiffs claim that the low compensation offered by the insurer for performing blood tests was what led the clinic to take shortcuts in care that resulted in their infection with dangerous blood-borne diseases. The insurance company claims that high awards will drive up premiums for all customers who have health insurance.

Victims of hospital or medical malpractice may be entitled to collect damages from those responsible for their injuries. Victims of such injuries may benefit from consulting a medical malpractice attorney. The attorney may be able to represent the victims in a suit for damages and help them recover monetary payments for pain and suffering, physical trauma and other injuries.

Source: Huffington Post Business, "UnitedHealth Group ordered to pay $500 million over Las Vegas hepatitis outbreak," Ken Ritter, April 9, 2013

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