Hutchison Endoscopy Trial Resumes

Posted by msch on Jan 23, 2012 3:45:00 PM

LAS VEGAS, NV - A civil trial has resumed after a nearly three-month break in a lawsuit against Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (NASDAQ: TEVA) and their distributor Baxter International (NYSE: BAX) related to Hepatitis-C contamination at a Las Vegas endoscopy clinic.

propofolThe trial was halted last October by the Nevada Supreme Court, while they considered a motion from the defendants for a change of venue, which claimed pre-trial publicity from large verdicts in previous related cases would prevent the selection of an impartial jury in Clark County. The Supreme Court issued an opinion denying the motion last December, and trial proceedings resumed earlier this month. Read the the court's decision here.

In the underlying case, plaintiff Stacy Hutchison alleges Teva and Baxter are responsible for her contracting Hepatitis-C, due to the companies' sale of the anesthetic Propofol in large containers, later used by Dr. Dipak Desai for multiple uses with contaminated needles at his endoscopy clinics. Dr. Desai, who has declared bankruptcy, is awaiting trial on criminal charges later this year. Defendants also include Sicor, Inc. and McKesson Medical-Surgical (NYSE: MCK). 

Hutchison's case is one of many similar lawsuits filed against the pharmaceutical companies in Las Vegas. Jurors returned a $90 million verdict against Teva and Baxter in another trial a few weeks prior to the start of Hutchison's, and the first Propofol-related case to go to trial resulted in a verdict exceeding $500 million, the largest in the state's history. 
The defendants, represented on appeal by Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith and Texas-based McDonald Devin, in their initial brief to the court, claimed it would be "impossible" to select an unbiased jury due to the "vast number of Clark County residents who have a direct interest in this litigation and due to media coverage that has been overwhelmingly negative to towards the defendants." They requested the trial be transferred to Reno. 

Hutchison's attorneys opposed the request, as did the trial court judge, and ultimately the Supreme Court, which wrote "…the record evidence demonstrated that, although this case and related cases received a fair amount of pretrial publicity…it was not of a kind or to the extent that it tainted the jury pool." 

The trial is scheduled to continue through at least January 30, with another related endoscopy clinic trial set to begin next month. Despite the unusually lengthy recess, the jury remained under instructions from the court not to independently research or speak about the trial. 

Courtroom View Network is providing a gavel-to-gavel video webcast of the Hutchison trial, as it has done for the three other endoscopy clinic trials to date. The case is Stacy Hutchison v. Teva and Baxter, Case Number 08A562216, Clark County Circuit Court, Nevada before Hon. Jerry Wiese.

Topics: CVN Docket, Endoscopy Center Cases, Pharmaceutical