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Deliberations continue in first hepatitis C case to reach trial

Updated Monday, May 3, 2010 | 5:24 p.m.

Endoscopy Trial Testimony

Carolyn Goodman, president and founder of the Meadows School and wife of Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, testifies on behalf of Meadows Headmaster Henry Chanin during a trial in District Court Monday, April 26, 2010. Chanin is suing drug companies in the first trial linked to the hepatitis C outbreak in the Las Vegas Valley. Launch slideshow »

Sun Coverage

Jury deliberations resumed Monday in the case of a man suing drug companies after contracting hepatitis C at a Las Vegas endoscopy clinic.

Robert Eglet, who represents plaintiff Henry Chanin, on Friday asked jurors to award his client millions of dollars in damages. The lawsuit claims Teva Parenteral Medicines Inc. and Baxter Healthcare Corp. are liable on several product defect claims.

If jurors determine punitive damages are warranted, a second phase of deliberations will begin. The jury will continue its deliberations Tuesday.

The two companies made and distributed, respectively, the anesthetic propofol used at Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center, where Chanin was infected with hepatitis C during a routine procedure in 2006.

Portions of the lawsuit, including those that named the medical professionals who performed the procedure when Chanin was infected, have been settled. Jury deliberations began Friday.

Eglet and attorney Will Kemp, who represents Chanin’s wife, Lorraine, say the large size of the vials used in endoscopy clinics led to reuse, or “double-dipping,” thereby causing contamination and leading to infection.

They also claim warnings on the vials and in product packaging were inadequate.

In closing arguments Friday, Eglet called the vials “weapons of mass infection” and said the drug companies put profits ahead of patient safety.

Lawyers for Baxter and Teva say that although they sympathize with the Chanins, they’re not responsible for Henry Chanin’s infection. The vials were produced in different sizes to offer more choices to medical professionals, attorney Mark Tully said in closing arguments Friday.

The warnings on the drug and its packaging are clear and consistent, he said.

Chanin is the headmaster at The Meadows School, a nonprofit, private school in the northwest valley that serves students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

He testified last week that his hepatitis was controlled after weeks of grueling treatment similar to chemotherapy. He said there is a 5 percent chance it could again become active. Hepatitis C can lead to liver disease, including cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Thousands sued in the wake of the health district investigation. The suit is the first to be heard by a jury.

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