Friday, May 19, 2017

TN Clinics Seek Cadden, Ronzio, FDA Testimony

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

Charging that the testimony is critical to their defense, Tennessee clinics being sued in the fungal meningitis outbreak are asking a judge to either clarify or amend a prior order delaying depositions of defendants and witnesses in a parallel criminal case.
In a 17-page motion filed this week, the attorney for the clinics said that there was no longer any justification for delaying the depositions of Barry Cadden, Rob Ronzio and two others, along with officials of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Citing the recent completion of the criminal trial of Cadden, the motion states that the time has now come for the depositions to proceed.
"The justification for staying these depositions are largely if not completely wiped out at this juncture," the filing by Chris Tardio states.
The motion was filed in behalf of Tennessee clinics in Crossville and Oak Ridge where patients were injected with fungus laden steroids shipped by NECC to health care providers in some 20 states. The 2012 outbreak sickened 778 patients and killed 76 of them.
Noting that Cadden was convicted by a jury on March 22 and Ronzio already has entered a guilty plea, the filing argues that key testimony is needed for the clinics to assert their claim that NECC was responsible for the deadly 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak.
In addition, the motion states that depositions from FDA agents are needed to show that the government agency acted recklessly by not taking action against NECC.
Stating that the FDA's involvement with NECC "spanned 10 eventful years," the motion adds, "There is no dispute that the FDA exercised some regulatory oversight of NECC."
As for Cadden and Ronzio, the clinic's lawyer acknowledged both are likely to invoke their constitutional right against self incrimination. Nonetheless the jurors in the civil case will be able to draw their own conclusions from their refusals to answer questions, the filing states.
In addition to Ronzio and Cadden, the clinics are asking U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel to allow the depositions of a former NECC employee, Joe Connolly and a salesman for NECC's sales arm, John Notarianni.
 Connolly was a key prosecution witness in Cadden's trial, detailing how NECC's operations disregarded concerns about safety and sterility and falsified records to make it appears drugs had been properly tested when they weren't.
Though Notarianni did not testify at the Cadden trial, the motion states that the former salesman has agreed to testify "substantively" about the assurances the NECC sales force gave to customers about the company's quality assurance.
Stating that "circumstances have changed," the motion concludes that delaying the depositions is no longer justified.
Though Cadden's trial ended with a conviction on 57 counts of racketeering and conspiracy, others charged in the two year outbreak investigation have yet to go on trial. Codefendant Glenn Chin's trial is scheduled for Sept. Others are scheduled for next year

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