Wednesday, September 7, 2016
Judge Sets Deadline for Saint Thomas Settlement
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
A federal judge today set a Friday deadline for finalization of a master settlement agreement between victims of the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak and the Nashville, Tenn. clinic where over 100 of those victims were injected with fungus ridden spinal steroids.
U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel issued the one-page order after being told that both sides had agreed to setting a deadline.
Her order also requires both sides to agree on the language of a release document which victims will be asked to sign if they agree with the settlement.
No details of the agreement have been made public though attorneys have testified in hearings in Zobel's Boston, Mass courtroom that an agreement in principle had been reached between lawyers representing the victims and the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center and related parties.
Settlements in cases against other health facilities sued in the aftermath of the outbreak have ranged as high as $40 million.
Saint Thomas officials have declined to discuss the terms, but they did state in a recent bond prospectus that the settlement would not have an adverse impact on the Saint Thomas entities.
At an August hearing attorneys told Zobel that an agreement had been reached but said paperwork had delayed finalization.
Nashville attorney William Leader, citing lengthy delays, recently asked Zobel to set a deadline.
The agreement is expected to resolve about 110 suits filed in behalf of patients who were injected with fungus laden methylprednisolone acetate at the Nashville clinic.
The 2012 outbreak, state and federal regulators have concluded, was caused by steroids shipped from the now defunct New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass.
A total of 778 patients were sickened in the outbreak and 77 of them died.
Among those deaths were several Nashville patients including Thomas Rybinski of Smyrna, Tenn. and Diane Reed of Nashville. Suits by their relatives are among those to be settled under the agreement.
Reed was the sole caretaker of her husband Wayne, who suffers from Lou Gehrig's disease.