By filing suit against an athletic equipment maker, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) may open his home to a detailed inspection, an experienced Nevada attorney explains. Reid was injured on New Years Day, losing sight in his right eye, allegedly after an exercise band malfunction in his home.
“I can’t look into Harry’s head, but a lot of these suits are filed to try and achieve a settlement,” Michael C. Mills, a Nevada attorney who specializes in insurance law tells Breitbart News about the lawsuit retiring Senate Minority Leader filed last week against the manufacturer of an exercise band he claims is responsible for the accident that caused serious injuries to his eye on January 1.
“Plaintiffs have to understand it opens them up to a great deal of … it gives the other side the opportunity to look much more closely into their private lives. I suspect they [the defendants] will take the opportunity to inspect his bathroom, to photograph it, examine it,” Mills adds. (emphasis added)
“A six figure demand [from Harry Reid] would not surprise me,” Mills, who has been practicing law in Nevada since 1988, says. Mills, a graduate of the University of Utah Law School, is the proprietor of and main contributor to the Nevada Insurance Law blog.
“Most of my work is on the defense side. I work more for insurance companies and for the policy holders they insure. If I were assigned to this case by an insurance company, I would be on the opposite of the Harry Reid case,” Mills notes.
“It appears to be a product liability suit. In Nevada, because the judges are popularly elected they tend not to make decisions based on summary judgment. Many of the cases are pushed towards a trial and resolution happens by a settlement rather than a judicial determination,” he explains.
The case “could take anywhere from three to four years,” Mills says.
“Joe Hardy [the presiding judge] was recently appointed by Brian Sandoval, the Governor of Nevada. He comes from a Republican background, although the judge’s elections are non-partisan. His family appears to have a Republican background,” Mills points out.
Though the case may take years to be resolved, either through judicial determination or a settlement, the wheels of justice will begin turning shortly.
“Once the complaint is served they [the defendants] have 20 days to respond,” Mills says.
But the manufacturers Reid is suing may try to have the case moved from a Nevada court room to a federal court room.
“I wouldn’t be surprised, because it’s Harry and Landra [Gould] Reid against Thera-Band [the exercise band manufacturer], I would not be at all surprised if the manufacturer removed the case to federal court.”
“There has to be diversity of citizenship,” Mills says. In this case, that standard seems to be met, since there are “two Nevada residents, and the manufacturer is an out of state company.” All three defendants who manufacture and distribute Thera-Band exercise bands–Hygenic Intangible Property Holding Company, The Hygenic Corporation, and Performance Health, LLC–are based in Ohio.
In addition, “the damages have to be in excess of $75,000.”
“The value of removing it to the federal court [for the defendants],” Mills tells Breitbart News, “is it takes it out of the hands of these popularly elected judges and puts into hands based on judges based on their experience, selected by a more academically focused selection process.”
In the product liability lawsuit filed last week, Reid’s attorneys claimed the damages were “in excess of $50,000.”
“The reason they are saying the value of the case is in excess of $50,000,” Mills says, “is they are trying to avoid a mandatory arbitration.”
“Cases for lower amounts automatically go to arbitration in Nevada,” Mills points out.
“They [the defendants] have to do that [file to remove the case to federal court] within 30 days of the date of the process being served,” he says.
Mills notes that the exposure of Reid’s private life will not be limited to an inspection of his bathroom, where the incident allegedly took place.
“There will probably be inquiries into his past medical history. If he’s making a claim for lost income it would open information related to his earnings,” Mills tells Breitbart News.
“If he’s looking to try and recover future income it would necessitate an inspection of his future earning capacity,” Mills says.
“They would also have the right to actually have a doctor examine hr related to the claims he’s making. The doctor would be rendering opinions that would either confirm or contradict the opinions of Harry Reid’s doctors with relation to the conditions of his eye,” he points out.
“They might look at his other eye too. That might play out to whatever disability might exist. If he has weak vision in his uninjured eye it could influence the amount of damages,” Mills adds.
But Mills says Reid may be looking for more than a mere $50,000.
“That doesn’t mean that’s [$50,000] the value of the case,” Mills tells Breitbart News.
“It’s hard to say [what Harry Reid’s looking for]. The Nevada Supreme Court doesn’t like it when cases look for headlines looking for higher amount. Probably the best resource regarding what Reid may be looking for would be a computation of damages. It’s a documentation that has to be created, whether the case is tried in federal or state court,” Mills explains.
“Medical bills of Harry Reid, Landra [Gould] Reid, past medical bills, would also talk about estimates of future care. other types of damage that might be related. Loss of income, loss of earning capacity and disability,” he notes.
“Those computations of damages would be produced relatively early in the case. Usually [computations of damages are filed] within about 120 days after the answer is filed,” he concludes.
However Harry Reid’s lawsuit against the exercise band manufacturer proceeds, it is certain to provide additional news about his personal life to the public as long as it remains in the courts.