Defense to make openings in Vegas hep C trial

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Lawyers for a former endoscopy clinic owner and an employee accused of murder and other charges are due to make opening statements at a trial stemming from a Las Vegas hepatitis C outbreak.

The defense of Dr. Dipak Desai (DEE'-pahk deh-SEYE') and former nurse-anesthetist Ronald Lakeman is set to begin Tuesday in Clark County District Court. They have pleaded not guilty.

Jurors on Monday heard a prosecutor say Desai and Lakeman emphasized speed and profitability so much that incurable liver disease was spread at a Desai clinic in Las Vegas.

Health officials say at least nine people were infected at Desai facilities in 2007, including one who died.

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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