Former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid described for a jury Thursday how he smashed his face on the corner of a bathroom cabinet in his Henderson home while using an exercise band.
“I hurt myself really bad,” he testified in the trial of his lawsuit against the makers of the band. “I just knew that I was hurt, and I needed to get some help.”
The injury on New Year’s Day in 2015 happened “really fast, really fast, really fast,” he said. “I can still remember that.”
He had looped an elastic resistance band through a metal handle on a glass door in his bathroom, he said, while performing an exercise routine before he lost his grip on the band, “spun around” and slammed his head on the cabinet.
He cupped his right hand over his right eye, saying he “broke everything here.” He was blinded in his eye, he said, and underwent several surgeries.
According to Reid’s lawsuit, with losing vision in his right eye in January 2015, he suffered a concussion, broken orbital bones, severe disfigurement to his face, bruising and lacerations on his face, hand injuries, scarring and broken ribs.
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.
Reid spent more than two hours on the witness stand Thursday, telling jurors about his childhood in Searchlight, his days as a boxer, lawyer and Nevada Gaming Commission chairman. He testified that he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which was in remission.
Reid has arrived in court this week in a wheelchair, accompanied by his wife, court marshals and personal security.
One of Reid’s attorneys, Colin Esgro, asked how the injury affected his life.
For the next three months, Reid said, he slept in a chair.
“I could not put my head down,” he told jurors. “I could not do that. That would be bad for me.”
He added: “It was a difficult time.”
Reid, 79, and his wife of 60 years, 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.
As an attorney for the band makers approached a lectern to Reid’s right for cross-examination, the former lawmaker looked ahead and said, “I can’t see you.”
The attorney, Laurin Quiat, then pointed out through his questioning that Reid had performed the exercise several times and had used exercise bands before suffering his injuries.
Quiat showed jurors a photograph of an exercise room with a treadmill and cushions on the hardwood floor.
“You could have done your exercises in the exercise room?” Quiat asked.
“I don’t know what I would have hooked the TheraBand to,” Reid replied.
The lawyer said in his questioning that Reid instead used the band in a bathroom with “hard floors, hard cabinets and hard countertops.”
Reid destroyed the medical-grade resistance band that he blamed for blinding him in one eye, Quiat told jurors earlier this week.
The company’s attorney argued that the injuries Reid suffered were his own fault.
Quiat asked Reid whether the injury occurred “because of a defect in the band.”
“If there had been handles on it, I wouldn’t have been hurt,” Reid said. “There was a defect in the band in that it didn’t have handles on it … I would never use those bands again, and I would never ever use those bands unless they had a handle on them.”
Reid’s testimony is expected to resume Friday.