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In what may rank as Nevada's largest ever punitive damage award, a jury on Friday awarded a Henderson couple $500 million in the first trial related to the valley's hepatitis outbreak.

Lawyers for Henry and Lorraine Chanin had suggested damages of more than $1 billion against Teva Parenteral Medicine and Baxter Healthcare Services.

The same jury on Wednesday found the drug companies liable for Henry Chanin's hepatitis C infection on two product liability claims and awarded the Chanins $5.1 million in compensatory damages.

Chanin was infected in 2006 during a colonoscopy at the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center, one of two Las Vegas clinics linked to the outbreak.

During a three-week trial, the Chanins' lawyers argued that the companies endangered public safety by providing endoscopy centers with larger-than-needed bottles of sedative that tempted nurses to reuse the vials instead of throwing away any leftover drug.

Monday

Insanity defense

A Las Vegas man accused of using a battle ax to kill an infant pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Harold Montague's trial was set for June 14, 2011.

The Feb. 11 attack in the street left 4-month-old Damian Avila Castro dead and the boy's mother, Sandra Castro, critically injured.

Monica O'Dazier, Montague's mentally and physically disabled sister-in-law, was stabbed 20 times before the ax attack, but she survived.

Tuesday

Covering their Butte

Gold Butte would be turned into a 345,000-acre national conservation area under a resolution passed by Clark County commissioners.

The resolution will be sent to Congress as a formal request to designate Gold Butte, a remote area 65 miles northeast of Las Vegas, as a conservation area.

The Bureau of Land Management owns Gold Butte, and Congress must approve any change in its status.

Before the vote, commissioners heard from a packed house of supporters and critics of the designation.

Wednesday

Prosecutor pinched

Nye County District Attorney Robert Beckett was arrested on fraud and embezzlement charges in connection with a bank account his office managed for more than 13 years.

The account held payments collected by the county's bad check unit, said Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo, whose officers in April seized a computer and other items related to the fund.

Beckett calls the investigation politically motivated.

Thursday

Tentative deal reached

The Clark County School District and its teachers union have reached a tentative agreement to sacrifice longevity pay raises, saving the district about $15 million.

Because the support staff union has reached a similar tentative agreement to avert layoffs, the district now has identified $25 million of the remaining $28 million it needs to close a budget shortfall for the 2010-11 school year.

The district faced a budget gap of $140 million because of state funding cuts and declining property taxes.

Friday

Teacher admits tryst

A Las Vegas High School teacher told police she had sex with a 17-year-old student multiple times, including in her classroom, according to a school police report.

According to the report, Jennifer Gardel, 30, initially told investigators she only kissed the boy, but in a second interview she described six sexual encounters matching the student's version of events.

 

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