Tuesday, November 17, 2015
First New York Outbreak Victim Steps Forward
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
A New York woman has been given until Dec. 1 to file proof that she was one of the victims of the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Henry J. Boroff Monday approved the request by the attorney for Lilliana Balanta to allow her to file a claim even though the deadline has long since passed.
Balanta is apparently the first and only victim from New York. The official count by federal officials includes no New York cases.
According to the petition, Balanta was injected with a steroid from the New England Compounding Center on Aug. 16, 2012 at the New York Spine and Sport Rehabilitation facility in the Bronx.
The petition states that she immediately experienced "severe pain at the injection site, skin infection
at the injection site, headaches, nausea, dizziness and vomiting."
A subsequent test showed no evidence of fungal meningitis.
Balanta's doctor informed her by letter in late October that she may have been injected with a drug produced by NECC, according to the filing.
Balanta "became emotionally distressed because she had been suffering many of the symptoms listed," her petition states.
Her lawyer, Devon Wilt, said in the petition that he did not learn about the filing deadline until after he had filed a lawsuit against NECC and related parties in early July of this year.
Balanta's is one of a handful of claims to be allowed after the deadline.
Victims who can prove they were victims of the outbreak will share in some $200 million amassed by NECC's bankruptcy trustee.
Over all some 778 patients across the country were sickened in the outbreak and 76 of them died.
Two of NECC's top officials have been charged with more than two dozen counts of second degree murder and they are scheduled to go on trial in April of next year.
State and federal regulators have concluded that NECC shipped thousands of vials of fungus laden steroids to health facilities in more than 20 states.