October 11, 2011
Robert Eglet, ’88, landed another big financial blow to drug companies in the Las Vegas hepatitis C lawsuits when a Clark County District Court jury awarded three plaintiffs $162.5 million in punitive damages on Oct. 10, 2011.
That award came on top of the $20.1 million in compensatory damages that the jury ordered last Thursday for the plaintiffs and their spouses who had accused three drug companies of negligently distributing large vials of an anesthetic to Las Vegas clinics at the center of the 2008 outbreak.
Charging the companies put corporate profits ahead of patient safety, Eglet and his co-counsel said the defendants recklessly distributed 50-militer vials of the anesthetic propofol to clinics where only 10- or 20-militer doses were needed for outpatient colonoscopies. The three pharmaceutical giants hit with the verdict, Teva, Baxter and McKesson, countered that the drug was manufactured and delivered properly, and that clinic doctors and anesthesiologists were at fault if the misused it. They vowed to appeal.
“The verdict sends a very loud message,” Eglet told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Hopefully, that will be enough for the drug companies to realize they need to come to this community, and they need to make this right and resolve this case with everyone. But if not, we’re prepared to take you on in other cases.”
The verdict wasn’t the first multi-million dollar decision in the continuing litigation over the 2008 hepatitis C outbreak, the clinics’ alleged negligence and the sedative at the center of the case. Last year, in the first trial to emerge from the incidents, Eglet represented a patient and his wife, whose lawsuit resulted in a $500 million award. That verdict is on appeal before the Nevada Supreme Court.