Former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid destroyed the medical-grade resistance band that he blamed for blinding him in one eye, an attorney for the band company told jurors Tuesday.
Attorney Laurin Quiat said during his opening statement that the injuries Reid suffered in January 2015, when he was blinded in his right eye, were his own fault.
“Rather than taking responsibility, he has decided to sue,” Quiat said. “No one needs to tell anyone of such a consequence of their own actions. It’s called gravity.”
Reid and his wife, Landra Gould, lodged a product liability lawsuit against three defendants: Hygenic Intangible Property Holding Co., The Hygenic Corp. and Performance Health LLC. The lawsuit accused the makers of TheraBand of negligence and failure to warn.
Quiat rejected allegations from Reid’s attorney, Jim Wilkes, that the flat resistance band was a dangerous tool for use by elderly patients such as Reid, who was 75 at the time.
“We just don’t have any way of knowing if the band he was using was even made by my client,” Quiat said. “A flat resistance band is extremely safe to use. Always has been, always will be.”
About two months after his injury, Reid, Senate minority leader at the time, announced that he would not seek re-election. He had served in the Senate since 1987.
Wilkes told jurors in his opening statement that the injuries from the incident with the band, which Reid had under a doctor’s prescription for years to maintain balance, ended his career and changed his life.
Reid, now 79, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year and has arrived in court this week in a wheelchair, accompanied by his wife and Secret Service agents.
Along with losing vision in his right eye, Reid suffered a concussion, broken orbital bones, severe disfigurement to his face, bruising and lacerations on his face, hand injuries, scarring and broken ribs, according to his lawsuit.
Wilkes delved into Reid’s childhood in Searchlight, as well as his days as a boxer, lawyer and member of the Nevada Gaming Commission, and his years in the Senate.
“It’s a testament to a lot of hard work, a tremendous amount of courage,” Wilkes told the jury of six men and four women. “He remembers what it’s like to encounter adversity. He was a politician for a long time.”
Wilkes then showed jurors images from an instruction manual for the exercise band.
“This book would have been wonderful,” the attorney said, “but Sen. Reid never saw one until after his injury.”
Wilkes called Hygenic’s director of product development, Allison Ryan, as the first witness, who testified briefly Tuesday afternoon.
Her testimony is scheduled to resume Wednesday morning before District Judge Joe Hardy Jr. Closing arguments are expected next week.