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Ex-docs Lawyer Asks Hep C Jury to Consider Intent

LAS VEGAS, NV - A defense attorney is telling jurors they must decide if a former endoscopy clinic owner and employees knew they were committing a crime, or if they simply made a mistake when patients became infected with incurable hepatitis C in 2007.

Defense attorney Richard Wright said in opening statements today that the law is complicated, but prosecutors won't be able to prove former Dr. Dipak Desai intentionally put patients at risk or that he and nurse anesthetists meant for one patient to later die.

Desai and former nurse-anesthetist Ronald Lakeman have pleaded not guilty to 28 charges including murder.

A prosecutor alleged yesterday that Desai and Lakeman emphasized speed and profitability so much so that they put patients at risk.

Last month, a Nevada civil jury ordered the state's largest health management organization to pay $500 million in punitive damages to three plaintiffs in a negligence lawsuit stemming from the outbreak.

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