Landra Gould, the wife of former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, described Wednesday how she cared for her husband after he was partially blinded while using a resistance exercise band.
In the weeks and months after he suffered multiple injuries but before he left public office, Gould said, she helped Reid dress, shave and clean up and even guided him as he struggled with depth perception.
“It changed our relationship because I for the first time had a caregiver role,” Gould, 78, told jurors during a trial over the couple’s product liability lawsuit against the makers of the exercise band. “It was really hard because he’s such an independent person. I hate to say he has a lot of pride, and I don’t mean it in a bad way, but he wanted to be the guy he was before (the injury).”
Their lawyer, Colin Esgro, responded: “He wasn’t?”
“No,” she said. “He changed.”
Shortly after her testimony, Reid’s lawyers rested their case, and lawyers for the band makers, Hygenic Intangible Property Holding Co., the Hygenic Corp. and Performance Health LLC, called defense witnesses.
The lawsuit accused the makers of the TheraBand of failure to warn.
Reid, 79, testified last week that the injury occurred after he had looped an elastic resistance band through a metal handle on a glass door in his bathroom while performing an exercise routine. He testified that he lost his grip on the band, “spun around” and slammed his head on the cabinet.
Gould said she had the bands thrown out before knowing the couple would file the civil complaint.
“I didn’t want him to see them,” she said. “I didn’t want him to use them.”
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 the lawsuit.
Reid told jurors about his childhood in Searchlight and his days as a boxer, lawyer and Nevada Gaming Commission chairman. He also testified that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which is in remission.
About two months after his injury, Reid, who was Senate minority leader at the time, announced that he would not seek re-election. He had served in the Senate since 1987.
During Gould’s testimony, defense lawyer Laureen Frister played video of Reid saying that his decision had “absolutely nothing to do with my injury.” But Reid has since said that the resistance band injuries played a factor in his decision not to seek re-election.
“He was trying to reassure people that he was healthy enough to finish out his job,” Gould testified. “I guess he could have said a lot of things, but that’s the way he chose to say it.”
This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Laureen Frister’s name.