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August 1, 2014

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Expert: Hepatitis C victim suffered multi-million dollar damages

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Steve Marcus

Meadows Headmaster Henry Chanin appears in court 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.

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 »

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Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the first trial connected to the hepatitis C outbreak linked to Southern Nevada endoscopy centers on Tuesday rested their case.

Henry Chanin was infected with the virus at the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center during a routine procedure in 2006. The Chanins have sued Teva Parenteral Medicines Inc. and Baxter Healthcare Corp., the companies that made and distributed, respectively, the anesthetic propofol used at the clinic.

The final witness who testified for the Chanins was an economist and financial consultant who put a multi-million dollar figure on the Chanins’ ordeal.

Dr. Stan Smith, an expert witness in economic damages, testified that based on the losses Henry and Lorraine Chanin suffered as a result of him contracting hepatitis C, compensation between $4 million and $5 million would be appropriate.

During direct examination from Henry Chanin’s attorney, Robert Eglet, Smith, who has testified in hundreds of cases, told the jury his valuation in this case was extremely conservative.

Smith said his analysis was based on standard economic formulas, data on vital statistics and interviews with the Chanins.

Smith said his research indicated Henry Chanin, now 62, was expected to live until age 81. Based on that, he said, he was able to calculate the overall loss of enjoyment and value of Chanin’s life and his reduced ability to contribute to household chores. He also factored in Lorraine Chanin’s loss of relationship with her husband.

Henry Chanin on Monday testified that although the hepatitis is controlled, he is still anxious about the possibility of passing the disease to his wife.

The Chanins’ attorneys say the jumbo-sized vials of the drug, which contained five times the amount of propofol needed for routine endoscopic procedures, encouraged reuse, which led to contamination and infection. They also claim the warnings on the vials were inadequate.

They are suing for product liability and other claims. Portions of the lawsuit have been settled.

Lawyers for the drug companies say the warning labels on the vials are clear and consistent and that they aren’t responsible for Henry Chanin’s infection.

Henry 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. Both he and Carolyn Goodman, the school’s president and founder and wife of Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, testified that Chanin is expected to take over Carolyn Goodman’s duties when she retires later this year.

Chanin said from the stand 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.

He said he still suffers from joint pain and that his stamina is notably decreased since contracting the disease and going through treatment.

Hepatitis C can lead to liver disease, including cirrhosis or liver cancer.

About 50,000 people were notified they needed to undergo testing for hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV after an investigation in 2008 by the Southern Nevada Health District.

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

Doctors and other expert witnesses are expected to testify for the defense as the trial continues this week.

In his opening statements last Monday, Eglet suggested to the jury a figure of $10 million would be appropriate. Closing arguments in the case could come as early as the end of the week.

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