Federal District Court Decides Motion to Dismiss in Exeter Hospital Contribution Action

On September 4, 2014, the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire dismissed one of two contribution claims filed by Exeter Hospital based on the lawsuits filed against it by patients infected with Hepatitis C. The patients were infected with Hepatitis C after David Kwiatkowski, a traveling cardiac catheterization technician, had injected himself with syringes of drugs and then replaced those syringes with saline, which in turn were used by patients at Exeter Hospital.

Most of the cases against Exeter Hospital have settled. Exeter Hospital brought a contribution action against a placement agency, Maxim Healthcare Services, Inc., and a certifying agency, the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) seeking contribution for the payments it made to Hepatitis C infected patients. Exeter Hospital alleged that Maxim, who had previously placed Kwiatkowski at hospitals, was aware that Kwiatkowski had been previously fired by a facility. Exeter Hospital also sought contribution from ARRT, alleging that ARRT was aware of the details of an incident occurring prior to the incident at Exeter Hospital, yet it never reported or investigated the incident and permitted Kwiatkowski to work at other hospitals, placing patients of those hospitals at risk.

The Court granted Maxim’s motion to dismiss, finding that although Maxim was aware that Kwiatkowski had been discharged from one of the hospitals at which he was placed, there was no allegation that Maxim was aware of the reasons for that termination.

ARRT also moved to dismiss. However, the Court found that ARRT knew about an incident involving Kwiatkowski misusing drugs yet never reported the incident to the authorities and it permitted him to be placed at other hospitals, which enabled him to remain employed as a traveling cardiac catheterization technician and which placed every patient at such hospitals, including Exeter Hospital, at risk. The Court found that a motion to dismiss was inappropriate because ARRT knew about the incident and, as a certifying agency, had broader duties.

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