Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Judge Approves Payment of Legal Fees
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
A federal judge has approved the payment of legal fees and expenses totaling $6.25 million for a group of lawyers who represented victims of the deadly 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak.
In a two-page order issued Monday U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel approved the compromise payment request that was hammered out during a Dec. 8 session in her Boston, Mass. courtroom. Under that compromise the attorneys will get only 50 per cent of the originally requested amount of $12.5 million.
Zobel had suggested the 50 per cent figure after lawyers for some of the victims raised questions about lawyers getting all of their fees while victims were only getting half of what they eventually expect to collect.
The payments will come from a trust fund estimated to range from $130 million to $157 million that was amassed in the bankruptcy of the New England Compounding Center, the defunct company blamed for the outbreak that took the lives of 77 people.
Zobel's order authorizes the trustee of the fund, Lynne F. Riley, to distribute the lawyers' payments only if "all or virtually" all of the initial payments have been made to qualified victims. Outbreak victims had to submit documentation by a Dec. 15 deadline in order to be assured payment before the end of the calendar year.
The lawyers getting paid from a so-called common benefit fund were credited with doing work that benefited all the victims of the meningitis outbreak.
According to a report from Riley filed Dec. 8, payments had been made to 462 victims. Another 28 had been finally approved for a total of 490. A total of 2,340 claims were filed but 177 of them had been finally rejected. She reported that 1,981 had been fully or partially approved.
The average payment for the 462 who had received checks was $15,828.64. The payments to victims as of that date totaled $7.3 million.