Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Judge Rejects Summary Judgment in Meningitis Cases

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

A federal judge Tuesday denied a motion for summary judgment filed by the Connecticut firm that built a sterile room later used to manufacture the tainted steroids that caused a nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak.
In a six-page ruling U.S. District Judge Rya W. Zobel rejected the motion filed by Liberty Industries, Inc., concluding that there too many issues of fact still to be decided by a jury,
Libery was hired in 2005 and 2006 to construct clean rooms for the New England Compounding Center, the Framingham, Mass. firm that shipped fungus tainted methylprednisolone acetate to doctors and healthcare facilities in 2012.
Liberty had been named as a defendant in 99 cases filed by Indiana victims of the outbreak that killed 64 patients and sickened hundreds more.
Liberty's lawyers had argued that the company could not be held liable for something that occurred some six years after the work was completed.
"Though the question is a close one," Zobel wrote, "summary judgment is not appropriate at this time. Genuine issues of fact remain for a jury to decide."
Though the ruling only applies to Indiana cases, it may impact cases from other states including those in Tennessee.
Zobel is presiding over hundreds of cases filed by outbreak victims and their survivors.
Last week a federal grand jury issued indictments against 14 former employees and owners of NECC following a two year federal probe of the outbreak. Two of the defendants were charged with second degree murder in 25 of the 64 deaths.

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