Thursday, August 11, 2016
Judge Will Hear Distribution Pleas
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
A federal judge ruled today that lawyers can present arguments for quick distribution of payments from a $200 million trust fund to victims of a 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak.
In a brief one-page order U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel said she will hear arguments for the fund distribution at a previously scheduled Tuesday hearing in her Boston, Mass. courtroom.
Lawyers representing victims from Virginia, Tennessee, Indiana and Michigan recently filed motions calling for the trustee overseeing the victims' fund to begin making payments within 30 days.
In her order, Zobel said that she will allow one attorney to speak for all three motions for a total of 15 minutes.
While her order does not specifically address the issue, it does indicate that she expects to conduct a formal hearing in her courtroom. Another recent emergency motion had requested that the Tuesday hearing be conducted only by phone.
Distribution of funds from the victims' trust fund has been delayed by negotiations with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and U.S. Justice Department lawyers over the amount of the $200 million that will go to CMS as reimbursement for medical bills the agency paid in behalf of the victims.
As Zobel noted, a proposed settlement with CMS is already on the agenda for the Tuesday court session.