Court Roundup

California

@ROUND UP Briefs Headline:Lawsuit: Surgical gowns allowdiseases through

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A $500 million lawsuit against Kimberly-Clark Corp. alleges the company falsely claimed its surgical gowns protected against Ebola and other infectious diseases.

The suit, filed Wednesday in federal court, alleges that the multinational company knew for at least a year that its Microcool Breathable High Performance Surgical Gown had failed industry tests of impermeability to blood and microbes, but it continued to claim the product provided the highest level of protection against diseases including Ebola.

Many of the gowns tested had "catastrophic" failures, according to the lawsuit, which called Kimberly-Clark's actions "utterly reprehensible."

"We are aware of individuals that have contracted various diseases while wearing the gown, but we are not at liberty to disclose what those are at the present time," said Michael Avenatti, the lead attorney in the case.

Avenatti said the Texas hospital where two nurses contracted Ebola once stocked the gowns but he didn't know whether those workers or an infected nursing assistant in Spain had worn them.

"We are still investigating," he said.

A message seeking comment was sent to a spokeswoman at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital late Thursday.

Kimberly-Clark said in a statement that it does not comment regarding ongoing litigation but the company stands behind the safety and efficacy of its products.

The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, alleges fraud, false advertising, negligent misrepresentation and unfair business practices. It was filed by Hrayr Shahinian, a Los Angeles surgeon specializing in skull base and brain tumor operations who said he had used the gowns and thus was potentially exposed to harm.

Dallas-based Kimberly-Clark, which also makes consumer products such as Kleenex and Huggies, has more than half the worldwide market for surgical gowns that meet the highest level of resistance to transfers of bodily fluids, according to the lawsuit.

"We estimated that tens of millions of the gowns have been sold worldwide," Avenatti said.

However, "up until now, individuals have had no reason to suspect that these gowns were defective," he said.

Companies that manufacture protective suits and gowns have increased production in the wake of the Ebola outbreak that has killed thousands of people in Africa and Asia and one person in the United States.

DuPont Co. has said it is tripling production of protective suits.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends equipment for medical workers treating Ebola patients include either a coverall or "fluid resistant or impermeable gown that extends to at least mid-calf."

Montana

Man gets 40 years in prison for shooting death

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - A Billings man has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for shooting another man to death, apparently during an argument about a stolen gun and pit bull puppy.

District Judge G. Todd Baugh sentenced Mahpevana-Hane (mah-puh-VON'-uh-Hayne) Lorne Bearcomesout on Thursday for the October 2013 shooting death of 32-year-old Misael Santiago, The Billings Gazette reports.

"I took a life, and I take responsibility for that because that's what a man does," Bearcomesout said, adding that he's trying to be a better man while struggling with alcohol and mental illness.

Baugh sentenced Bearcomesout to 50 years in prison with 10 suspended and ruled he would be eligible for parole when he turns 50.

Baugh, the prosecutor and a police detective lamented that the shooting could have been avoided.

Bearcomesout, 36, confronted Santiago about the puppy around 2 a.m. on Oct. 20, 2013.

"Based on the evidence at the scene, it appears (Santiago) was going to the garage to retrieve the dog, just like Mr. Bearcomesout asked," Chief Deputy Yellowstone County Attorney Rod Souza said Thursday. "And, for no reason, Mr. Bearcomesout draws his .45, racks a round into the chamber and then shoots an unarmed man."

Santiago was shot three times.

Police Detective Brian Krivitz testified that Santiago was paralyzed and bled to death in the driveway.

"I don't understand why this whole situation (couldn't) be mediated by law enforcement, if it's truly about a dog," the detective said. "The dog could have been retrieved by police within a matter of 10 minutes."

At the time, Bearcomesout had been released from jail with conditions, including not drinking, for allegedly punching and choking his common-law wife in May 2013.

Baugh said if there was a way for the court to set things right, he would do it.

"One of the things we probably ought to do as a society is keep better track of people with mental health issues and make sure those are properly treated and that they don't have access to weapons," Baugh said. "We don't do a very good job of that."

Published: Mon, Nov 03, 2014

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