Thursday, April 20, 2017
Final Victims' Payments Due By Summer
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
The second and final payments to victims of the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak should come this summer and the underlying court case should be nearing final resolution by August.
That's what a federal judge was told yesterday by attorneys involved in the civil litigation stemming from the deadly 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak.
The checks due this summer will come from a fund established under the bankruptcy of the New England Compounding Center, the now defunct firm blamed for the outbreak.
U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel called the report "very encouraging" and asked Kristen Johnson, one of the lawyers for victims, to provide a written version of the verbal report.
"There's not that much left come August," Johnson said of the underlying case. "We're just about done with this MDL (litigation)."
She noted that there will be an additional fee allotment to attorneys who performed work done for the benefit of all of the victims. The second payment is expected to total about the same as the first, $6 million.
Ben Gastel, one of the attorneys for Tennessee victims of the outbreak, told Zobel checks from a settlement with the owners of a Nashville clinic, the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center, should be going out next month. The exact terms of that settlement have never been made public, but it is believed to be in excess of $20 million.
Gastel said victims will be getting an initial check that is estimated at about 90 percent of what each victim will ultimately receive. He said a small reserve will be held back to cover any final expenses.
Meanwhile mediation is expected in cases brought against the Select Surgery Center in Crossville, Tenn. The same mediator used in the Nashville cases is handling those cases.
Zobel also got reports on efforts to settle or bring to trial cases against a Maryland clinic.
Zobel said she would contact a judge in Maryland who is handling the cases brought against the Box Hill Clinic in state courts to coordinate a schedule for the cases remaining in her court.
"I will not try to run him over,"Zobel said, but she made clear that she intends to keep the cases now before her in federal court.
She also agreed to rescind an order she issued April 7, setting four Box Hill cases for trial.
"I acknowledge I was wrong," she said, adding that she jumped the gun.