It has been almost two years since the fungal meningitis outbreak affected hundreds of victims in several states across the country. Plaintiffs who sued have reached a settlement with the Massachusetts pharmacy responsible for the contaminated injections.
The New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Framingham, Massachusetts is accused of distributing steroid injections that were tainted with deadly fungal meningitis linked to at least 64 deaths in 20 states. NECC has now agreed to set aside $100 million for the 751 victims of the tainted steroid shots, including families of the 64 people who died.
As early as October 2012, fungal meningitis outbreaks in many states were linked to steroid injections distributed by the NECC, as we posted on our blog. Most of the steroid shots were used to treat back pain sufferers.
Soon after, NECC was sued by the first of hundreds of victims who were allegedly infected with fungal meningitis via contaminated steroid shots traced back to the Center. Since then, NECC has shut down and surrendered its licenses, but the number of cases of fungal meningitis from its product reached the hundreds.
According to a press release by the plaintiff’s attorneys, the lawsuits against the NECC had initially been consolidated in Massachusetts federal court but were later transferred to bankruptcy court, which must now approve the proposed $100 million settlement. NECC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December 2012, effectively putting these fungal meningitis lawsuits on hold.
But even with the cases put on hold, it didn’t stop each side from attempting to negotiate a settlement, which appears to have been reached at $100 million. According to the plaintiff’s attorneys’ press release, the settlement will include:
- $50 million from NECC owners, Barry Cadden, Lisa Cadden, Carla Conigliaro and Greg Conigliaro;
- $10 million form the owners’ tax refunds;
- More than $25 million from NECC’s insurance companies;
- $9 million from the sale of Ameridose, a related company.
It was reported that there are 3,300 claimants eligible for a piece of these settlement funds. However, a judge must approve the deal before anyone gets any monies. The bankruptcy court will consider if this settlement deal is fair to both parties, and whether or not the terms are not unreasonably biased.
Injury settlements can also be rejected if a judge feels that the settlement amount is not enough to satisfy all individuals in the suit. The average claimant is set to receive approximately $30,000 according to the proposed settlement. It will ultimately be up to a judge to decide if this amount is sufficient.
Is this settlement enough to make up for what the victims and their loved ones have been through? 64 people lost their lives as a result of the tainted steroid injections.
Individual compensation could vary widely, from claims from families for wrongful deaths to people who suffered infections after being exposed to the contaminated product, as reported by NBC News.
It was alleged that there are others who are responsible for the outbreak, including UniFirst, the company responsible for controlling contamination and the firms responsible for building the cleanroom and HVAC systems. Additionally, the individual doctors and clinics that distributed the pain shots will be considered.
No criminal charges have been lodged in the case. The company’s owners have denied wrongdoing or liability.
For more information, contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).