Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Virginia Firm Joins Motion Seeking Delayed Fees

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

A Virginia law firm representing some 33 victims of the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak is lending its support to a motion to delay the payment of lawyers fees until the victims themselves get an initial payment from a trust fund.
In a two-page filing today in U.S. District Court in Boston, Mass. the two lawyers asked U.S. District Rya Zobel to withhold payment of $12.5 million in legal fees and expenses until at least 90 percent of the outbreak victims have received an initial payment.
"It is manifestly inappropriate for fees and costs to be distributed ... when so many approved claimants, several affected individuals and families, have received nothing," the filing states.
John E. Lichenstein and Gregory Lyons of the Lichenstein Law Group in Roanoke, Va. signed the filing.
Earlier this week eight lawyers for victims from Tennessee, Indiana and Virginia filed a similar motion asking Zobel to put a hold on lawyers fees until the court appointed trustee certifies that 90 percent of the victims have received a payment.
That motion also asks Zobel to order the trustee, Lynne Riley, to file detailed monthly reports on the number of checks sent out and a breakdown of the category of each of the recipients. Under a court approved plan payments to victims are based on the severity of the illness and other factors, such as length of hospitalization.
The payments will come from a so-called national settlement fund created during the bankruptcy of the New England Compounding Center, the defunct drug firm blamed for the deadly 2012 outbreak.
Some 778 patients were sickened, many suffering fungal meningitis. At least 77 died from fungus riddled steroids shipped by NECC.
In the motion filed today, Lichenstein and Lyons wrote, "Many of these clients suffered catastrophic injury and permanent disability from the resulting fungal meningitis and secondary infections; others died."
According to the attorneys thus far only two of their clients have received a payment from the trust fund, which could total some $157 million.
"All those who survived live with uncertainty and fear of developing fungal disease or of having it recur.
A motion to pay the $12.5 million is pending before Zobel and it is scheduled for consideration at a Dec. 8 hearing.

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