Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Checks Mailed for 1,852 Outbreak Victims
By Walter F. Roche Jr
Only four new claims from a fungal meningitis outbreak have been partially or fully approved over the past two months, according to a report filed today in U.S. District Court in Boston, Mass.
The report from Lynne F. Riley, the court appointed overseer of outbreak settlement funds, shows claims for 2.022 victims of the 2012 outbreak have been fully or partially approved. That's an increase of four from a prior report from Riley filed in late March.
The new report shows that $81.9 million in benefit checks have been issued, compared to $77.7 million cited in the March report.
Riley is overseeing the distribution of funds secured during the bankruptcy of the New England Compounding Center, the company that shipped fungus riddled steroids to health facilities across the country. Some 778 patients were sickened in the outbreak, while 76 died, most from fungal meningitis.
According to Riley's report, the checks issued thus far represent about half of what most victims can expect to finally receive from a national settlement fund.
The checks have generally been issued to attorneys representing the victims or their survivors and not directly to the actual victims.
Of the 1,852 checks issued, Riley said 209 were from separate funds established to settle claims against clinics where victims were injected with the contaminated methylprednisolone acetate purchased from NECC.
Riley reported that a total of 2,353 claims were filed and 289 have been "fully denied."
She said 14 claims that have been fully or partially denied could still be appealed.
Riley said the exact amount of second payments to victims from the national settlement fund will be calculated after all the first payments have been made and all appeals resolved.
"The tort trustee estimates that second payments will be issued this summer," the report concludes.
The report was filed with U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel, who has been presiding over hundreds of individual suits filed in federal courts across the country.
A formal status conference before Zobel had been scheduled for this week but was canceled at the request of attorneys representing plaintiffs in the case. The next status conference is scheduled for July 20.