Thursday, March 30, 2017
Tennessee Victims Could Get Checks Next Month
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
An estimated $20 million has been deposited in a settlement fund for Nashville, Tenn. area victims of a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak and initial payments could be forthcoming within a month.
Some details on the settlement were given today to U.S. District Court Judge Rya Zobel in a 45 minute session in her Boston, Mass. courtroom.
Benjamin Gastel told Zobel that money has been deposited in the fund and an administrator to distribute payments has been appointed.
Though the exact amount of the settlement has never been disclosed, it is estimated to be in excess of $20 million.
The funds will go to the more than 100 outbreak victims who were sickened after being injected with fungus laden steroids at the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center in Nashville.
Zobel has been presiding over hundreds of cases brought by outbreak victims against hospitals and clinics that purchased contaminated vials of methylprednisolone acetate from the now defunct New England Compounding Center.
Gastel reported that a mediated settlement might be possible for some 13 cases filed by victims against the Specialty Surgery Center in Crossville, Tenn. He said the effort included the services of the same mediator used in the Saint Thomas cases.
Chris Tardio, one of the surgery center's lawyers, said his client supported the effort for a mediated settlement.
During the session Zobel gave her approval to settlements for the survivors of two Virginia patients who were among some 77 who died during the outbreak. Payments to three survivors of one of those victims will total some $450,000.
Five beneficiaries of the second victim will share a little over $360,000.
Zobel also heard from lawyers for victims and the operators of a Maryland clinic. Eight cases against the Box Hill Clinic are still in Zobel's court, while some 20 others are being litigated in Maryland courts.
Zobel urged both sides to make an effort at mediating a settlement of the federal cases. A Maryland judge already had ordered mediation in the cases being heard in Harford County. However, Zobel said there would be no point in her ordering mediation if the clinic lawyers were set on taking the cases to trial.
"There's nothing the court can do right now," Zobel said.
Also presented during the session was a status report on payments to outbreak victims from a separate fund established under the bankruptcy of NECC.
Michael Fencer, the lawyer representing the trustee, said 2,018 claims have been approved and some $77.7 million has been disbursed. According to the report from Lynne Riley victims can expect a second payment during the summer.