Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Checks Mailed to 275 Outbreak Victims
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
The attorney overseeing the distribution of payments to victims of the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak reported today that checks have been mailed out to 275 out of nearly 2,000 victims deemed eligible for payment.
In a report filed in U.S. District Court in Boston, Mass. Lynne Riley, the court appointed administrator of a $200 million trust fund, reported that of 1,979 victims approved for payment the checks were issued to 275, while the balance are awaiting final clearance. She said that the total value of the checks issued thus far was $5,439,512.
The report comes amid growing anxiety among victims as the fourth anniversary of the deadly outbreak has come and gone with most victims still waiting for any payments.
According to those familiar with the case, most of the checks will be going to the attorneys representing victims, not the victims themselves.
Also yesterday, the attorneys for some Tennessee victims of the outbreak, asked that a detailed report on the status of payments be provided. According to the filing only one of the two law firms' 58 clients has received a check thus far.
In her report to U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel, Riley said that a total of 2,338 claims had been filed and 372 of those had been denied.
She said 50 claims were still under review.
According to the report, certification letters have been issued for 750 victims. Riley said that some claims have been delayed while awaiting clearance by state Medicaid agencies for any possible liens. Clearance from the Medicare agency also is mandatory for all claims.
"Medicaid eligibility results have now been received for over 90 percent of those 1,199 (original) claimants, leaving approximately 150 whose Medicaid agencies in various state have not yet reported back," Riley's report states.
An additional 780 claims filed after the original deadline also await Medicare and Medicaid clearance.
The checks now being issued represent a portion of what victims can expect to receive. A second check will be sent after various expenses, including legal fees, are paid out of the same trust fund.
The payments come from funds amassed in the bankruptcy of the New England Compounding Center, the Massachusetts firm blamed for the outbreak which took the lives of 77 patients across the country.
According to court documents in a related criminal case, a total of 778 patients were sickened in the outbreak. An owner and supervising pharmacist for NECC are scheduled to go on trial in January for 25 counts each of second degree murder, racketeering and other charges.
Other former NECC owners and employees are scheduled for an April trial.