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SNHD loses battle to keep deceased employee's case out of court

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Photo: Video by ktnv.com

SNHD loses battle to keep deceased employee's case out of court

By Darcy Spears. CREATED Dec 13, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A jury will get to hear the case of a former health district employee whose family claims the government agency killed him.

This is a story Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears has been following for seven years.

Now a judge says it's high time the case is heard.

"I'm mad as hell. The health district ruined my life. They ruined my family's life," expressed Dan Pauluk in a video recording he made shortly before his death.

Pauluk was an environmental health inspector for the Southern Nevada Health District.

He died July 27, 2007.

"The pain, the agony, the suffering. His raw, weeping sores all over his body," recalled his wife, Dr. Wendy Pauluk, when we spoke to her in November.

Dan's family and his doctors said he was slowly eaten alive from the inside out by toxic mold he was exposed to at the Southern Nevada Health District's now-shuttered Shadow Lane headquarters. 

The building has a long and well-documented history of water leaks and mold issues.

The Pauluk family filed a lawsuit against the health district in December 2007, but had to put it on hold in 2011 based on Dr. Wendy Pauluk's ill health.

"I have had to not only fight with the health district for ongoing justice for my husband, but then I have my own health issues as a result of the mold spores, and I have been fighting for my life."

The health district has been fighting the Pauluks, trying to get the case dismissed. But this week, they lost their bid to have it thrown out.

In a federal order filed Dec. 9, Judge Philip Pro writes, "After thorough review of the record in this case, the court finds there remain genuine issues of material fact." He added, "This very old case needs to be set for trial forthwith."

"What kind of lies were told to the public from the health district?" Wendy wonders. "What kind of conspiracy and cover-up comes out? This will come out in trial."

Before Dan became disabled, he made multiple requests to be moved away from the mold. But his requests were denied. And he was forced to stay in what many called a sick building.

"I think they tried to hide this for a number of years for a variety of reasons," Wendy said. "I think one reason they tried to hide it is because it probably would have resulted in the public losing faith in the health district."

In a decision earlier in the case in 2008, Judge Pro wrote, "Pauluk's supervisors ordered him to work in an area they knew to be dangerous. They misrepresented the safety of the facility by presenting a false report about its cleanliness." He calls their actions "egregious and conscience-shocking."

"They have seen to it that their actions have destroyed a person," said Dan, struggling to speak as he lay on his death-bed.

The health district has declined comment because the case is still ongoing. 

Both sides have been ordered to meet no later than Jan. 23 so the judge can set the matter for trial. 

Of course, Action News will be following it.

Previous Contact 13 Stories:

Health District's new report highlights old problems

Contact 13 Follow Up: Mold kills health district employee

Lawsuit filed against Southern Nevada Health District over former employee's death

Darcy Spears

Darcy Spears

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Darcy Spears is currently the Chief Investigative Reporter for Action News.