BRENTWOOD — A federal judge rejected Exeter Hospital’s argument that its lawsuit against four staffing agencies that used a traveling hospital technician who infected 32 patients with hepatitis C should remain in state court.
U.S. Judge Paul Barbadoro decided the federal court has jurisdiction over Exeter Hospital’s lawsuit, which contends that the staffing agencies should bear some of the cost of settlements paid to infected patients.
David Kwiatkowski’s desire to serve his 39-year prison term in his home state of Michigan was a significant factor in the judge’s decision that the lawsuit should proceed in U.S. District Court, according to an 18-page order made public on Tuesday.
Exeter Hospital filed the lawsuit in Rockingham County Superior Court and wanted to keep the case there.
Lawyers for the staffing agencies had argued that the companies were all out of state, which justified the case being transferred to federal court. The lawyers also noted that Kwiatkowski, who is also named in the lawsuit, likewise intended to live and possibly serve his sentence in his home state of Michigan.
Kwiatkowski, 34, was sentenced in December after pleading guilty to charges that he infected patients at Exeter Hospital between April 2011 and May 2012 through drug diversion. He spread hepatitis C to unwitting hospital patients by injecting himself with the painkiller fentanyl then allowed the dirty needles to be used by patients.
“When Kwiatkowski is released in four decades, any remaining ties that he has with New Hampshire — or with the other states where he briefly resided over the past seven years — will most likely be a distant memory,” Barbadoro concluded. “The connections that are more likely to endure over the years are the bonds he has formed with his family.”
Kwiatkowski is currently being held at the U.S. Penitentiary Hazelton, a high-security facility in Bruceton Mills, W. Va., according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
The hospital staffing agencies named in the lawsuit are: The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, Maxim Healthcare Services and American HealthCare Services Association.