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Across the Region: Attorney pleads not guilty to hit-and-run charge

NORTH DAKOTA

Plaintiffs in hepatitis lawsuit seek testing

Attorneys for victims of the largest hepatitis C outbreak in recent U.S. history want a judge to order more testing, which they say could identify even more infected people.

Plaintiff’s attorneys have asked state District Judge Todd Cresap to order Minot’s Trinity Hospital to expand testing to all current and former employees and contractors who might have had access to injectable narcotics since 2010, and to all current and former Trinity patients who received injectable drugs or phlebotomy services from Trinity or a Trinity contactor in that time span.

“The testing order that plaintiffs seek will prevent an already devastating outbreak from spreading further still,” the plaintiffs said in a motion filed last week.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that can cause serious liver damage or death. The state Health Department says 52 people were sickened in the outbreak that began in August 2013, including 48 residents or former residents of the ManorCare nursing home. It was the nation’s largest outbreak in 13 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The nursing home and 21 victims jointly filed a lawsuit in March claiming that an employee of Trinity’s outpatient laboratory service reused needles and didn’t follow infection control practices. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages.

Trinity attorney Randall Hanson didn’t immediately respond to an Associated Press request for comment on the motion seeking more testing. However, Trinity has denied being responsible for the outbreak and has asked Cresap to throw out the lawsuit.

 

IOWA

Attorney pleads not guilty to hit-and-run charge

A Sioux City lawyer has pleaded not guilty to a hit-and-run charge.

Thomas Farrens, 31, entered a written plea Tuesday in Woodbury County District Court.

Court documents say Farrens didn’t stop after his car struck two pedestrians and sideswiped another vehicle on April 4. His car was found abandoned in Grandview Park.

The pedestrians were taken to a hospital for treatment.

Police Sgt. Jeremy McClure says that after Farrens was found at home later that evening, his blood tested out above the legal limit for alcohol. Prosecutors say the use of alcohol is still being investigated.

 

Open records charge filed over body cam video

A prosecutor hired by the Iowa Public Information Board says three law enforcement agencies improperly withheld public records related to the death of a Burlington woman killed by a police officer.

Special prosecutor Mark McCormick has charged the Burlington Police Department, Des Moines County Attorney Amy Beavers and the Division of Criminal Investigation with violating the open records law.

An officer accidentally shot Autumn Steele to death in January 2015 while responding to a domestic dispute.

Steele’s family requested public records related to the incident. The agencies claimed they satisfied Iowa law by releasing a 12-second body camera video.

McCormick alleges Beavers withheld documents she claimed she didn’t have and the police agencies have improperly claimed records are confidential.

 

WISCONSIN

Sheriff’s lawsuit properly dismissed

A state appeals court says a judge properly dismissed Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke’s lawsuit demanding more deputies.

Clarke asked for money in the 2015 county budget for an additional 119 deputies and 58 jail guards. The final budget provided money for 17 additional deputies.

Clarke and the deputy sheriff’s association sued, alleging the budget was arbitrary and created unsafe working conditions. They asked for an order requiring the county fund 85 more deputies and 50 jail positions.

Judge David Hansher dismissed the lawsuit, saying Clarke didn’t prove he was entitled to relief. The 1st District Court of Appeals upheld Hansher on Wednesday, ruling the Legislature gave the county board the authority to regulate the number of law enforcement officers.

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