Recently in a Nevada product liability suit, two drug companies were found liable in a Nevada court because a patient possibly contracted hepatitis C. The verdict was for $104 million. The award included $14 million in compensatory damages. However, the jury also delivered a verdict that one of the drug companies should pay out $60 million and the other drug company should pay out $30 million in punitive damages.
The dollar amounts should give any company pause when a complaint is filed against them in Nevada. This is especially true when we are discussing a complex product liability in front of a jury and where the potential damages are enormous. At this point any product manufacturer requires experienced and competent attorney that understands the complexity of the case and also understands whether the matter should proceed to court or be settled out of court. It also shows the importance of the appellate process in Nevada for companies hoping to overturn verdicts of this size.
The plaintiff claimed to have contracted hepatitis C during the process of a colonoscopy. It was alleged that large vials of an anesthetic called propoful were used during anesthesia procedures, and this created the situation where nurses or doctors would reuse the vials during separate anesthetic procedures. The drug companies maintained that medical providers were the ones that likely spread the infection. They also maintain that both drug company's inability to present their full defense in the court prevented the jury from hearing the full story. The two drug company's do plan on appealing the verdict.
It should be noted that this was the third $100 million jury verdict in Nevada courts concerning product liability matters. The two drug companies are already appealing another Nevada verdict in the amount of $500 million that occurred back in May of 2010.
Source: Chicago Tribune, "Jury: Baxter, Teva liable for $104M in hepatitis case," Oct. 13, 2011