Sunday, May 29, 2016
Meningitis Cases Put on Hold; Settlement Near?
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
A federal judge has abruptly put off scheduled trials and put other issues on an indefinite hold amid hints of a possible settlement for some Tennessee victims of the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak.
In a two-page order issued Tuesday U.S. District Judge Rya W. Zobel called off so-called bellweather trials that had been scheduled to begin in mid-August.
The order also puts on hold several pre-trial matters that were expected to be acted upon in the coming weeks.
"The court will refrain from deciding ripe dispositive motions - this order supersedes any briefing schedule for both dispositive motions and unripe motions," the order states.
Lawyers involved in the cases said they were barred under confidentiality rules from discussing or commenting on what triggered the order.
Another recent court filing, however, hints at the possibility of a settlement.
The cases that had been scheduled for trial before Zobel were all brought in behalf of outbreak victims who were infected following treatment at the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center in Nashville, Tenn.
The motions put on hold by Zobel also involved claims by victims who were treated at the Nashville clinic.
Dozens of suits filed in behalf of the Nashville clinics' patients are currently pending before Zobel. A suit brought by Jane Wray had been scheduled to go to trial in mid-August.
Zobel ordered all parties in the cases to report back to her within 90 days.
Two other Tennessee clinics, including the Specialty Surgery Center in Crossville, have been sued by outbreak clinics but it was not immediately clear whether those other clinic cases were included in a possible settlement. Zobel's order refers specifically to the Saint Thomas cases.
Still other outbreak cases before Zobel may be headed back to state and federal courts where they were originally filed. The judge has scheduled a hearing for next month to consider a proposal that would shift more than a dozen of those cases back to their home courts.
All the cases before Zobel stem from the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak caused by a now defunct drug compounding firm. The company shipped thousands of vials of fungus tainted spinal steroids to medical facilities in more than 20 states.
The outbreak sickened 778 patients, killing 76 of them.
MDL NO. 13-02419-RWZ
IN RE: NEW ENGLAND COMPOUNDING PHARMACY, INC. PRODUCTS LIABILITY LITIGATION
THIS ORDER APPLIES TO ALL ACTIONS NAMING SAINT THOMAS OUTPATIENT NEUROSURGICAL CENTER, LLC
ORDER May 24, 2016
ZOBEL, J. The Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, the STOPNC defendants,1 and the St.
Thomas Entities2 have orally moved the court for relief from several impending deadlines. That motion is ALLOWED.
The bellwether trials already scheduled, Wray v. Ameridose, LLC, Temple v. Ameridose, LLC, and McElwee v. Ameridose, LLC, are continued in supersession of the court’s April 26, 2016 order (Docket # 2828). The court will refrain from deciding ripe dispositive motions—this order supersedes the court’s May 20, 2016 order (Docket # 2898), and suspends any briefing schedule for both unripe dispositive motions and unripe motions for leave to file such motions.
Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center, LLC, Howell Allen Clinic, P.C., Vaughan Allan,
1 Debra Schamberg, RN, and John Culclasure.
2 Thomas Health.
Saint Thomas West Hospital f/k/a St. Thomas Hospital, Saint Thomas Network, and Saint 1
Case 1:13-md-02419-RWZ Document 2912 Filed 05/24/16 Page 2 of 2
The court will also refrain from deciding the following discovery motions: Motion in Limine to Exclude Reference to Michael O’Neal, O’Neal’s Pharmacy Consulting Services; and St. Thomas Neurosurgical’s Medical Executive Committee (Docket # 2608); Motion to Compel Completion of the Deposition of David Kessler, MD (Docket # 2763); Motion to Strike Matthew C. Lee as Case-Specific Expert (Docket # 2769); Motion to Quash Subpoenas and for Protective Order (Docket # 2815); Motion to Strike Mixon’s Supplemental Report (Docket # 2829).
Within 90 days, the parties shall file a status report with the court. The parties shall likewise notify the court immediately of any material deviation from their present positions.
May 24, 2016 DATE RYA W. ZOBEL
/s/Rya W. Zobel UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE