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Local Attorney Comments on Hospital Suit

Local Attorney Comments on Hospital Suit Click to Enlarge Photo: Xiaoming Zhao, Photos.com

Feb 7, 2013 at 2:43 pm

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (KNSI) - Several days have passed since word came out that four ex-St. Cloud Hospital patients have filed a lawsuit against the hospital and a former nurse, and one St. Cloud area attorney says both parties could easily be found responsible if the case makes it to trial.

Former nurse Blake Zenner admitted siphoning pain medication from V bags for personal use between 2010 and 2011, which led to bacterial infections in 25 hospital patients, and is facing a lawsuit.

The four plaintiffs are also accusing the hospital of negligence, alleging that the infections created from Zenner's drug diversion couuld have been stopped.

St. Cloud-based personal injury attorney Mike Bryant of the firm Brandshaw and Bryant says, while the hospital will stress they couldn't have controlled Zenner's actions, they can still liable for actions made by employees while on the clock.

"What did they know, what should they have known, what practices do they have that allow this employee to do what he did, were there hiring issues to begin with...these are all questions that will come out in discovery," Bryant says. "Minnesota is a Respondeat Superior state - in other words, hypothetically, if my employee does something illegal on the clock, I can be held accountable."

Bryant is not involved in this particular case, but he says, according to the complaint, all four patients' claims were filed at the same time, so the group is likely represented by the same lawyer or lawyers.

Bryant says the amount the patients are suing for is not set yet, but will be worked out as the case moves along and damages are assessed

St. Cloud Hospital spokeswoman Jeanine Nistler says the hospital maintains that it could not have prevented Zenner's actions, nor were the symptoms faced by patients severe.

The plaintiffs opted not to meet with the hospital in favor of simply pursuing legal action, but Bryant says there's still a possibility it could settle before seeing a courtroom. Zenner pleaded guilty to the drug diversion back in September, and has since surrendered his nursing license.

Abby Faulkner

Posted By Abby Faulkner

Assistant News Director

Abby Faulkner's Profile

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