Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun
Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012 | 3:42 p.m.
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A major breakthrough was announced today in 41 civil lawsuits that were filed as the result of the hepatitis C scare that rocked Southern Nevada in 2007 and 2008.
Clark County Court Chief Judge Jennifer P. Togliatti handled a nine-day settlement conference that brought resolutions to the cases, which involved endoscopy clinics in the Las Vegas area and two drug companies.
The terms of the settlements are not being disclosed. But the total amounts are thought to cost the companies hundreds of millions of dollars.
"This is the longest and most complicated settlement conference of my career," Togliatti said in a statement released today.
"I am extremely pleased that the parties were able to settle their differences with the assistance of the Eighth Judicial District Court," the judge said. "The parties and I spent nine days in formal meetings and informal back and forth correspondence to get these cases resolved."
The settlement includes the resolution of a $522.4 million judgment awarded to Henry Chanin, a Henderson school principal who was infected with hepatitis C during a procedure he underwent at the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center.
Teva Parenteral Medicines Inc. and Baxter Health Care Corp. appealed the jury verdict to the Nevada Supreme Court. On Jan. 24, the high court ordered the Chanin case and 40 other pending endoscopy-related cases be resolved at a "global settlement conference" overseen by an Eighth Judicial District judge.
At the requests of the defendants' attorneys, the court excluded four endoscopy-related cases from the order, two of which had already been dismissed.
Mary Ann Price, the court's public information officer, said the breakthrough in the 41 cases amounts to "one of the largest settlements in Nevada history.”
Price said the settlements will also save millions of dollars in expenses for court time, trial time and juror time, "not to mention the heartache it will save the victims.”
"It will make a huge difference to the defendants, because they would have been in court for years," Price said. "In terms of court time and all the work that goes into this, it's all been averted."
Price said there are still some hepatitis C lawsuits not included in the global settlement conference.
"But this creates a momentum," she said. "It's good for all the parties involved, because as a victim, do you really want to wait forever to get your settlement?"
Price said the resolution averts potential years of litigation, with appeals possibly going to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"There’s not going to be any appeals or retrials," Price said "This was a big case to be resolved. The implications are big."
Other companies that were defendants in the 41 cases included the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada, Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center and Sicor Inc.