Was former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid a victim of a faulty exercise device -- or of his own failure to learn how to use it properly?
That's what a jury will decide in a trial now underway in Nevada over Reid's lawsuit, in which he claims he took a nasty fall when a TheraBand exercise device slipped from his hands in January 2015.
”I hurt myself really bad,” Reid, 79, who now uses a wheelchair, testified Thursday. “I just knew that I was hurt, and I needed to get some help.”
Reid is blind in his right eye since the accident, which he blamed on an “unreasonably dangerous” elastic physical resistance band.
He also claims that because of his injuries his U.S. Senate career was cut short. Reid, a Democrat, retired as Senate minority leader in January 2017 after serving in the Senate for 30 years.
But Laurin Quiat, an attorney for TheraBand, made by Hygenic Corp. of Ohio, said Reid is to blame for his own injuries because he simply misused the product.
The lawyer cited logs from the Office of Attending Physician to point out that congressional exercise advisers tried for months to teach Reid how to improve his technique while using the resistance bands at his doctors’ request, the Washington Times reported.
On the day of the accident, Reid said, he spun around and fell against cabinets in his bathroom while using the fitness product.
Reid, who is seeking unspecified damages in the suit, said he had looped the band through a metal handle on a glass door while performing an exercise routine before losing his grip. He said the device should have been designed with handles but wasn't.
The lawsuit claims he also 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 Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The accident, Reid says, was the cause of his retirement from the Senate.
"I knew I had to get out of the hospital as quick as I could and get back to Washington ... to assure the Senate that I was OK and would be back," Reid testified. "At that time, I was not sure I could be. But I put up a good front."
Reid said his eyesight loss affected his depth perception and reading ability. Two months after his injury, he decided not to run for re-election in 2016, putting an end to his three-decade career in the Senate.
During his two hours on the witness stand, Reid also testified that he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The former Senate leader underwent chemotherapy following surgery for his cancer, which affected vertebrae in his back. Reid said he’s now trying to regain his ability to walk.
"My pancreatic cancer is in remission," he said. "But my posture is really gone. I can't stand up."
Reid is due in back in court to resume testimony on Friday.