By Walter F. Roche Jr.
With a voting deadline approaching, the bankruptcy trustee for the firm blamed for a nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak has reached a settlement that will boost, if only slightly, the money available for victims.
In a filing this week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Massachusetts Paul D. Moore disclosed a $1 million settlement with the company that designed and built sterile rooms used to produce drugs intended to be injected into patients.
Liberty Industries built the clean rooms for the New England Compounding Center, the company blamed for the fungal meningitis outbreak that sickened 778 patients, killing 76 of them.
Under the agreement Liberty will pay $450,000 into a victims' fund, while its insurance company, Great American E & S, will pay $550,000.
If approved by Bankruptcy Judge Henry Boroff, the $1 million will be added to some $210 million placed in the fund by other parties including the owners of NECC.
In the filing Moore cited the fact that Liberty was a small family owned company with only 24 employees and few assets.
He said the $1 million was a "fair and reasonable" settlement.
The agreement comes as victims and other claimants against NECC are facing a May 5 deadline to cast their votes on whether or not to approve the overall plan submitted by Moore earlier this year.
Moore noted that some 550 claims have been filed against NECC and 100 victims have named Victory as a defendant.
The 2012 outbreak, state and federal regulators have concluded, resulted from the shipment by NECC of thousands of fungus tainted vials of methylprednisolone acetate to health care providers across the country.
Particularly hard hit were patients in Tennessee, Indiana and Michigan.