Health Plan of Nevada must pay $500 million in punitive damages for its role in the 2008 hepatitis C outbreak, a jury decided Tuesday.

The same jury last week awarded $24 million in compensatory damages to three people, two of whom contracted hepatitis C at a clinic run by Dr. Dipak Desai, the central figure in the outbreak.

The $524 million award is believed to be the largest ever in Nevada for a single case.

Plaintiff lawyer Robert Eglet said the verdict sent a strong message to HPN, its former parent company Sierra Health Services and every health insurance company in the United States.

Eglet asked for $2.49 billion in punitive damages, or about 15 percent of HPN’s and Sierra Health’s profits over a 10-year period.

HPN said in a statement that it had a compelling case for appeal and that the $500 million award “has no grounding whatsoever in reality — it represents fantasy damages, not punitive damages.”


Headed to the Hall

What was known a couple days earlier became official when legendary UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian was announced as an inductee to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

“It’s a real exciting time for me,” Tarkanian said at the announcement in Atlanta. “I think it validates everything I’ve done.”

The ceremony is Sept. 8 in Springfield, Mass.


Site gets ‘hot’ delivery

The Department of Energy is preparing to ship containers of highly radioactive, bomb-usable nuclear material for burial in a landfill at the Nevada National Security Site, 65 miles from Las Vegas, a plan being weighed by state officials but declared troubling by some outside experts.

The material is not as “hot” as the high-level spent nuclear fuel once destined for a planned repository at Yucca Mountain, at the edge of the national security site.

The Obama administration quashed that project, opting to explore a new course for nuclear waste disposal.


Record gaming haul

A calendar shift that moved the lucrative Chinese New Year holiday into February sent Nevada gaming revenues soaring, contributing to the largest single-month total ever for the Strip.

Nevada casinos collected $1.073 billion in gaming revenues during February, 15.1 percent more than the same month a year ago. On the Strip, gaming revenues hit a record $696.1 million, a 31.2 percent increase.


Cops won’t be charged

District Attorney Steve Wolfson announced that no criminal charges would be brought against Las Vegas police officers involved in the death of an unarmed, mentally ill Gulf War veteran.

The 43-year-old died on Dec. 12, 2011, when officer Jesus Arevalo fired seven shots from his AR-15 rifle into Stanley Gibson’s Cadillac during a standoff that began with a mistaken report of an attempted burglary at a northwest valley apartment.


Red Flag black flagged

The sequester budget ax fell heavily at Nellis Air Force Base with confirmation that July’s Red Flag air combat exercise and the next graduate-level Weapons School for pilots have been canceled, an unprecedented move in the 66-year history of the Air Force.

The advanced training school was canceled with a decision earlier in the week by Air Force leaders at the Pentagon and Air Combat Command to cut 45,000 flight hours for 12 U.S.-based fighter and bomber squadrons — one-third of the active-duty force — to save $300 million in fuel and flight operations through Oct. 1.