Las Vegas Sun

January 21, 2018

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Drug companies appeal $522 million judgment in hepatitis outbreak


Mona Shield Payne/Special to the Sun

Attorney Robert Cottle stands with Henry and Lorraine Chanin after the jury’s verdict is read May 7, 2011. Jurors awarded $500 million in punitive damage to the couple.

Jury Awards $500 Million

Attorney Robert Cottle stands with Henry and Lorraine Chanin after the jury's verdict is read May 7, 2011. Jurors awarded $500 million in punitive damage to the couple. Launch slideshow »

Chanins Hold News Conference

Henry Chanin answers questions from the news media regarding his physical health during a press conference following an award of $500 million in punitive damages Friday, May 7, 2010.  Seated from left, attorney Robert Eglet, Henry Chanin, Lorraine Chanin and attorney Will Kemp. Launch slideshow »

Sun Coverage

CARSON CITY – Two drug companies have formally lodged their appeal in Nevada Supreme Court to overturn a $522.4 million judgment awarded to a Henderson man, one of the victims in the hepatitis outbreak in Las Vegas in 2008.

Teva Parenteral Medicines Inc. and Baxter Health Care Corp. through their lawyers, argued in their 200-page appeal there are a number of reasons the district court judgment should be reversed.

Henry Chanin, a Henderson school principal, was infected with hepatitis C during a procedure he underwent at the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center. He maintains that a registered nurse anesthetist injected him with the prescription anesthetic propofol, which was manufactured and distributed by the two companies.

There were numerous other suits filed after the outbreak, but this was the first one that resulted in a jury verdict. Other defendants named in this suit have settled out of court.

Chanin and his wife, Lorraine, were awarded $500 million in punitive damages, $5.1 million for loss of consortium; $8.4 million in attorneys’ fees and costs, and about $9 million in interest.

The two companies are appealing, among other things, the refusal of District Judge Jessie Walsh to grant a new trial.

Teva and Baxter question allowing Texas lawyers to handle the case. They maintain errors were committed when the judge refused to allow them to assert cross claims against medical providers who administered the propofol because these persons or companies settled out of court.

The jury found that Teva and Baxter failed to properly label the drug vials and they shouldn't have provided the large containers to treatment centers. The Chanins argued that doctors would reuse the large vials and medical personnel would re-use syringes that spread the infection.

The two companies maintain the propofol wasn't contaminated with hepatitis and it did not cause any adverse side effects. They said there is nothing inherently defective in giving a doctor a choice as to which size vial to buy.

The appeal says errors were made in dismissing cases against defendants Dr. Rajat Sood, Bobbie Glass-Seran, the Gastroenterology Center of Nevada and Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center, all of whom had settled out of court.

The drug companies say these defendants should share in paying the judgment since they were the providers that administered the propofol that infected Chanin.

The Chanins will now answer the claims in the appeal and the court will probably hear oral arguments later this year.

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