Attorney who won hepatitis outbreak trial named top ten “Lawyer of the Year”

Robert Eglet, the attorney who won a state record $505 million verdict in May in the first trial related to the 2008 hepatitis outbreak in Las Vegas, has been named a “Lawyer of the Year” by Lawyers USA.

“It was a team effort,” said Eglet, who learned of the award Thursday. “It’s a great honor, obviously, and I think it means a lot to our state because it highlights Nevada’s legal talent. There are lots of lawyers in this state who are every bit the lawyer I am. I was just the guy in front of the jury, but a lot of work was done by the partners and staff.”

Eglet, the senior partner at the Mainor Eglet law firm, represented Henry Chanin, the headmaster at The Meadows school who contracted hepatitis after a colonoscopy at one of three now-defunct clinics operated by Dr. Dipak Desai. The lawsuit trial and subsequent verdict made national news when a jury found two pharmaceutical companies liable.

Roughly 50,000 Clark County residents were notified they might have been exposed to hepatitis C after health officials discovered staff used vials of the sedative propofol on patients .

In its citation, Lawyers USA described how Eglet “argued to jurors that oversized vials of drugs sold by a pharmaceutical manufacturer and distributor were ‘weapons of mass infection’ that led to a hepatitis-C outbreak.”

In that trial, the citation notes Eglet convinced jurors that Israel-based Teva Pharmaceuticals and Baxter Healthcare “knew the large vials created a risk that doctors would reuse them in shorter surgeries that required smaller doses, thus spreading infections between patients.”

Profit was the motive in selling the larger vials since it cost more to produce five of the 10 milliliter vials deemed appropriate for a 15-minute procedure than it does one 50-millimeter vial.

Eglet had two other trials postponed while the Nevada Supreme Court hears oral arguments regarding the admissibility of certain evidence.

That hearing is scheduled for Feb. 7, he said, and arguing for Teva will be famed Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, whom the pharmacy giant hired following last May’s verdict.

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