Thursday, November 17, 2016
10 Outbreak Suits Against TN Clinic Dismissed
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
A federal judge has dismissed 10 suits filed in behalf of victims of the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak against a Crossville, Tenn. clinic because the complaints failed to comply with Tennessee's health care liability statute.
In a decision handed down today in U.S. District Court in Boston, Mass., U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel concluded that 10 of the claims against the Specialty Surgery Center did not include certificates of good faith when health care liability claims were initiated, a requirement under Tennessee's health care liability law.
Zobel, however, denied dismissal motions in another five cases because lawyers in those cases filed the required certificates when they amended their original complaints to include claims under the state's health care liability law.
The Crossville clinic was one of three Tennessee locations where patients were injected with fungus laden steroids that triggered a nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak, sickening 778 patients and killing 77 of them.
All 15 cases that were the subject of Zobel's ruling today were initially filed with claims under Tennessee's product liability law.
In the five cases in which dismissal was denied, Zobel noted certificates of good faith were not included when the suits were first filed, but when those cases were amended to include health care liability claims, the certificates were attached.
Two of the remaining cases were amended to include health care liability claims but the certificates were not filed until about a month later.
"Their failure to file them (certificates of good faith) with their initial amended complaint was a fatal error that requires dismissal with prejudice," Zobel wrote.
In another eight cases Zobel found that certificates of good faith were never filed. Though the attorneys argued that there were "extraordinary circumstances" to explain the missing certificates, Zobel wrote that the lawyers offered "no explanation to show good cause as to why nine months later they still have not done so."