By Walter F. Roche Jr.
A federal judge has asked for more arguments from both sides on when and where to hear the individual cases of the victims of a deadly 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak.
U.S. District Judge Rya W. Zobel set deadlines Wednesday for the filing of briefs by attorneys for the outbreak victims and the health care providers being sued for their part in the outbreak which sickened 778 patients, killing 76 of them.
A special plea was offered for quick action in the case of Wayne Reed, a Tennessee man who lost his wife and sole provider in the outbreak. Reed suffers from Lou Gehrig's disease.
Reed's Nashville attorney George Nolan, told Zobel that his client would be happy to have his case heard in Boston, especially if that would speed up the process.
He also raised issues about which state laws should apply since the liability statutes in Massachusetts and Tennessee differ.
That choice, he said, could be critical in determining whether defendants could limit their liability based on the actions of other defendants. He said that under Tennessee law, for instance, such a limitation would not be allowed.
"We would hope to resolve these issues as soon as possible," he said.
Zobel ordered each side to file briefs on the issue.
"Our clients look forward to getting their day in court," said Mark Chalos of Nashville, who represents several victims.
Attorneys also updated Zobel on the developments in the now resolved bankruptcy of the New England Compounding Center, the defunct Framingham, Mass. drug firm blamed for the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak