Insurance firm target of lawsuit

Alynne Griffiths has hepatitis C and believes she was infected at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada.

On Wednesday, the 70-year-old Las Vegan filed a lawsuit against Pacificare of Nevada for "requiring or encouraging" her to seek medical care at the facility where federal and state health officials say staff routinely took part in unsafe medical practices between March 2004 and Jan. 11.

The lawsuit, among many filed as a result of the state’s hepatitis C outbreak, is the first against an insurance provider.

"I would like to see a broader referral system where people can get access to different doctors and not be so restricted to these doctors who were involved,” Griffiths said Wednesday from the office of her attorney, Gerald Gillock. "Unless you’re independently wealthy, you have to go where your insurance company sends you.”

Griffiths’ complaint seeks damages in excess of $50,000.

It claims Pacificare of Nevada did not "direct, evaluate or monitor the effectiveness of health services provided by" the endoscopy center. It also claims the insurer breached its duty by failing to adopt and implement an appropriate quality assurance program and continuing to contract with the endoscopy center.

"That is one of the primary reasons for the problems being as significant as they are in Las Vegas. We have a limited number of Health Maintenance Organizations that control the medical care available to all of the lives in Clark County,” Gillock said. "There’s a statutory duty under the laws of the state of Nevada that these insurance companies have to maintain a quality control program. They have to inspect and ensure these health care providers are furnishing quality health care to their insured.”

Gillock said patients have no choice when deciding on a physician in such cases involving HMOs.

Cheryl Randolph, spokeswoman for Pacificare, said the company could not comment on the complaint Wednesday because it had not been served.

"We have not had the opportunity to review it; therefore, we cannot comment until we’ve had a chance to review it,” she said.

Gillock, who represents 50 former patients of the endoscopy center who have tested positive for hepatitis C, said he doesn’t anticipate Griffiths’ case turning into a class action lawsuit. He does, however, anticipate filing similar complaints against other insurance providers.

"We anticipate there may be some consolidation, but I don’t think these are going to become class actions,” Gillock said about his clients’ cases. "Every person infected has different results.”

Griffiths said she was sent to the Shadow Lane facility in September 2005 for a colonoscopy and in March 2006 for an endoscopy procedure.

Like thousands of other patients, Griffiths received a letter from the Southern Nevada Health District urging her to get tested for hepatitis B and C, and HIV.

She said she did so and tested positive for hepatitis C.

Recently, Griffiths’ primary care physician referred her to several physicians for hepatitis C treatment.

None of those physicians is covered under her Pacificare health plan. The physician her health plan is now referring her to was associated with the 700 Shadow Lane facility between March 2004 and Jan. 11., she said.

Once again, Griffiths said Pacificare is forcing her into poor health care.

"The doctors I felt were qualified, and who were highly recommended to me, I cannot go to. This is about access,” she said.

Neither Griffiths nor Gillock would reveal the name of the physician she is being referred to for hepatitis C treatment. But Gillock said he’s not one of the four listed as an owner of the Gastroenterology Center of Nevada.

"He is one of the doctors who worked there,” he said.

According to city and state health officials, there were 14 physicians who worked within the Gastroenterology Center group, an umbrella organization that ran the Shadow Lane clinic as well as two other surgery centers.

Doctors Dipak Desai, Clifford Carrol, Eladio Carrera and Vishvinder Sharmer, were listed as owners of the Gastroenterology Center of Nevada. Desai and Carrera have had their licenses temporarily suspended by the state’s Board of Medical Examiners. The board is currently investigating whether complaints against other doctors are warranted.

In February, the health district announced that six people had contracted hepatitis C and that they had all undergone procedures at the Shadow Lane facility.

Investigations by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and health district investigators revealed that the reuse of syringes in a manner that contaminated vials of medication, and the reuse of those vials, had exposed patients to hepatitis B and C and HIV.

Notifications have been sent to more than 60,000 former patients of the Shadow Lane facility, as well as its Desert Shadow Center affiliate on Burnham Avenue, urging them to get tested for the blood-borne viruses.

Health officials have not linked any HIV or hepatitis B cases to either of the two facilities: eight hepatitis C cases are linked to the Shadow Lane facility and one to the Burnham facility.

About 400 former patients of the Shadow Lane facility have tested positive for hepatitis C. Health officials have said 77 of them are "possibly" linked to that clinic.

Gillock, a well-known Las Vegas medical malpractice attorney, said his office has assembled a team of attorneys from across the country for its fight against the insurance companies.

"We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and get into the trenches,” he said. "We’re quite confident that we’re going to establish that these organizations have totally neglected their insured.”

Contact reporter Annette Wells at awells@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0283.

ad-high_impact_4
News
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
1 dead, 1 wounded in North Las Vegas standoff
A woman was hospitalized with serious injuries on Thursday morning after being shot inside a North Las Vegas house. Police responded about 11 p.m. to a shooting at a home on the 5600 block of Tropic Breeze Street, near Ann Road and Bruce Street. The wounded woman, police believe, was shot by a man, who later barricaded himself inside the house. SWAT was called to assist, and when officers entered the house, they discovered the man dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Las Vegas Teen Makes Clothing Resale His Side Hustle
Las Vegas resident Reanu Elises, 18, started buying and selling streetwear online when he was a high school junior. Like many other young adults, the world of online resale applications like Depop and Mercari have made selling clothing online for a profit easy. Now, Elises spends his free time at thrift shops looking for rare and vintage clothing he can list on his on his shop. Now in his freshman year at UNLV as a business marketing major, Elises hopes to open a shop of his own one day and start his own clothing brand. He estimates that he's made about $1000 from just thrifted finds in the past year, which he'll use to buy more thrift clothing and help pay for expenses in college. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Fruition Vineyards Encourages Young Entrepreneurs to "Buy, Flip, Dream"
Once a month, young adults gather at Fruition Vineyards on South Maryland Parkway near UNLV to dig through a stack of rare, vintage and designer clothing that's marked down well below it's resale value. Shop founder Valerie Julian began the vent, dubbed "Fruition Vineyards" in August after running her streetwear shop since 2005. The event gives young entrepreneurs the opportunity to "buy, flip, dream" according to Jean. Meaning that they're encouraged to buy the clothing for sale and find a way to resell it for a profit, then reinvest that into whatever dream they pursue: college, a hobby or their own resale business. Shoppers lined up starting an hour before noon on the last Saturday in April for the opportunity and spoke about what they hoped to do with their finds and profits. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Local man goes under cover searching for answers to homelessness
Licensed mental health therapist Sheldon Jacobs spent 48 hours under cover posing as a homeless man in an attempt to gain perspective on the complex issue.
Social Work UNLV Lecturer's Calling
Ivet Aldaba-Valera was the first person in her family to graduate from both high school and college. The 33-year-old UNLV lecturer is now pursuing her Ph. D in public policy at the school and has used her degree in social work to engage with the young Latino and Latina community of Las Vegas. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
The world's longest racetrack could be coming to Pahrump
Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club in Pahrump might be the first racetrack in the world longer than 16 miles long once the expansion is complete. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Gold Point townsperson talks about why he choose to live in a ghost town
Gold Point townsperson Walt Kremin talks about the ghost town in Nevada he calls home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Search for missing 3-year-old boy at Sunset Park
Las Vegas police and Red Rock Search and Rescue team search for a missing child at Sunset Park in southeast Las Vegas on Sunday, Sept.2, 2018. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai speaks at Las Vegas tech conference
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban on her way home from school in Pakistan after advocating for girls' education, spoke at VMworld 2018 at Mandalay Bay. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Father recalls the night his 14-year-old son died jumping into moving traffic
From the Clark County Detention Center, Ezequiel Anorve Serrano talks about the night his 14-year-old son, Silas Anorve, died jumping into moving traffic on U.S. 95. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Palace Station unveils new sports book
Palace Station talks about the new sports book Thursday, August 23, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
One of world's longest racetracks planned in Pahrump by 2020
The racetrack will be 16 miles long by the year 2020 according to Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club owner John Morris. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Henderson police bodycam footage of officer-involved shooting
Henderson police released body-worn camera footage of an officer-involved shooting in a grocery store parking lot at 2667 Windmill Parkway on Aug. 12, 2018. (Henderson Police Department)
Robotics takes off at Las Vegas Academy
Las Vegas Academy’s robotics team made it all the way to the world competition last year, the first year the team competed. Zackary Perry describes how they programmed their robot to compete. The team is an example of what Tesla wants to have in every school in the state. (Meghin Delaney/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bicyclist suffers major head trauma in hit-and-run
A bicyclist was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after a Thursday morning hit-and-run crash near the school formerly known as Agassi Prep. Police said the bicyclist was hit by a white SUV, which fled the scene. The injured man suffered multiple injuries including major head trauma. As of 9 a.m., Lake Mead remained closed between Martin Luther King and Revere Street while police investigate.
Las Vegas artist Dave Dave dies at 42
Dave Dave talks about his art and his life in 2016. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dave Dave, whose dad set him on fire in 1983, dies
Dave Dave, a respected Las Vegas artist who was badly scarred as a boy when his father tried to burn him to death in Southern California, died at Sunrise Hospital on July 15. He was 42. When he was 6, Dave's father tried to kill him by setting him on fire. He was given a sleeping pill and his bed at a Buena Park, California, motel was doused with kerosene. “I remembered being in a lot of pain,” Dave told the Review-Journal in 2016. “When stuff happens to you at that young of an age, you tend to block it out, but I remember the pain was excruciating.” Dave, who was born David Rothenberg, became close friends with Michael Jackson, who met him after the attack, which burned more than 90 percent of his body. “I wanted to meet him, and he wanted to meet me, and that just turned into a lifelong relationship that never ended,” Dave said. “It was amazing being friends with Michael Jackson. He was an amazing person.” Dave attended ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, and collaborated with various artists around Las Vegas, eventually selling his art to private collectors. Despite his challenges, he continued to live, thrive and create. Dave Dave
Homicide detectives investigate woman's death
Las Vegas police were called to Tahiti Village Resort early Wednesday after calls that someone had been shot. Police found a woman’s body between a parking garage and boiler room on the resort's property. A guest first reported hearing gunfire. There are no witnesses, but police will examine surveillance videos and look for clues. The woman was not identified, but a purse was found near the body. She did not appear to be a guest at the resort.
LVMPD Discusses Ross Dress for Less Shooting
LVMPD Assistant Sheriff Charles Hank discussed the 15th officer-involved shooting of the year at a press conference at Metro headquarters on Tuesday, Aug. 14. The active-shooter incident took place at the Ross Dress for Less store at the 4000 block Blue Diamond Road in the south Las Vegas Valley. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County School Board president Deanna Wright on travel expenses
Clark County School Board President Deanna Wright says she followed proper expense protocol in trip to Florida last year.
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Shooting leaves 1 dead in southeast valley
A man was found fatally shot in the doorway of a squatter apartment after an argument ended in gunfire on Sunday night. Officers responded about 10:30 p.m. to the Silver Pines apartments and discovered the man in a breezeway in one of the buildings. The wounded man died at the scene, despite the efforts of another person, who tried to administer medical aid. Witnesses saw a man and a woman flee the scene, but were unable to give police a clear description.
North Las Vegas unveils new school crosswalk
North Las Vegas councilman Isaac Barron talks about the new school crosswalk in front of CP Squires Elementary School Monday, August 6, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
LVMPD Briefing on OIS #13
Assistant Sheriff Tim Kelly held a press conference to discuss details of the 13th officer-involved-shoot for the department in 2018. Video shows the moments before the suspect was shot. The shooting, which has been edited out, occurred as the suspect lunged at an officer outside the apartment. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sedan and semitrailer collide in south Las Vegas
An early Wednesday morning crash has left one person in critical condition. A sedan and semitrailer collided around 4 a.m. at the corner of Spencer Street and Serene Avenue. Police do not believe impairment is a factor in the crash. Spencer has been blocked off north of Serene while police continue their investigation.
Cybersecurity Professionals Flock to Las Vegas for Black Hat
Black Hat USA, the largest annual cybersecurity conference, is expecting a record 17,000 attendees during its six-day run at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center this week. One thing attendees have in mind is making sure they don't get hacked while they're there. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police chase ends with suspects captured in east Las Vegas
An early Tuesday morning chase ended with a car crash in an east Las Vegas neighborhood. Police were pursuing the vehicle, which they say was involved in robberies in Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, when the driver crashed at Owens and Statz Street. A man was taken into custody. A woman was ejected from a vehicle and taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The intersection at Mojave Road and Owens Avenue was shut down while police officers searched for the suspect and investigated. The intersection will remain closed for most of the morning.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like