Sunday, October 2, 2016
Fund For TN Victims = $20 Million Plus
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
A still confidential settlement of suits against a Nashville, TN clinic stemming from the deadly 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak could provide more than $20 million to some 113 victims and their survivors, according to those familiar with the agreement.
That figure would make it the second highest thus far in litigation against clinics and other health care facilities where victims were injected with methylprednisolone acetate that was supposed to be sterile but was infected with a deadly fungus.
The only higher settlement, some $40 million, came in suits filed by outbreak victims against a Virginia clinic.
Some details of the settlement are becoming public as the victims who survived are marking the fourth anniversary of the first public disclosure that a deadly fungus had been unleashed on unsuspecting patients across the country.
Though it eventually turned out that the very first fatal victim of the outbreak lived in Florida, the outbreak first became public in Nashville after a Vanderbilt physician reported a highly unusual case of fungal meningitis to the Tennessee Health Department.
The settlements with the Nashville clinic and other health providers are separate from a so-called national settlement fund established in the bankruptcy of the New England Compounding Center, the company that produced and shipped the deadly drugs. That fund is providing some $120 million to $130 million to victims and some initial payments already have gone out, including to some Nashville victims.
The 2012 outbreak sickened some 778 patients across the country. At least 77 died.
The existence of a settlement with the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center was first set out in a memorandum of understanding which was disclosed at a session in federal court in Boston, Mass. on July 19, but the details have never been made public.
Rebecca Climer, spokeswoman for Saint Thomas, said she could not comment on the settlement as did Chris Tardio, one of the attorneys for the clinic.
Attorneys for victims also declined to comment citing confidentiality agreements.
In their latest report to the court, attorneys for both sides said final details were being worked out, including the wording of releases victims must sign to get a share of the fund. The last court set deadline passed without any announcement or further request for an extension.
The clinic was owned in equal shares by Saint Thomas Network and the Howell Allen Clinic, also in Nashville.
Awards from the Tennessee fund are expected to be made by a method similar to that being utilized for the national settlement fund. Those funds are being parceled out on a point system based on the severity of the illness suffered.
The payments from the Nashville settlement like those from the national settlement will be subject to liens from the Medicare and Medicare programs ranging from 10 to 21.5 percent. Under Tennessee law attorneys fees will be limited to 33 percent of the amount recovered.
The same liens are being applied to the other clinic and health facility settlements.
Suits are still pending against other health care providers including two other Tennessee clinics and health providers in Maryland and several other states.
National Settlement Fund $120 million to $130 Million
High Point Settlement Fund $3.5 million (NC)
Inspira Settlement Fund $16 million (NJ)
Insight Settlement Fund $40 million. (VA)
Michigan Pain Specialists Settlement Fund $10.5 million. (MI)