Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Payments Flowing for Tennessee Outbreak Victims
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Although the details remain secret, payments are beginning to flow for outbreak victims who were injected with contaminated steroids at a Nashville, Tenn. clinic.
The payments are coming from a fund estimated at more than $20 million assembled to settle a little over 100 separate lawsuits. The payments are going to victims and their survivors who were treated in 2012 at the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center.
The clinic was one of dozens where patients contracted fungal meningitis and other illnesses after being injected with methylprednisolone acetate laden with fungus. Thousand of tainted vials of the steroid were shipped to health providers by the now defunct New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass.
Though attorneys involved in the settlement declined to comment, several sources confirmed that payments from the fund are now being processed and some checks have been issued.
The fact that a settlement had been reached became public during a session in U.S. District Court in Boston, Mass. earlier this year. Hundreds of suits stemming from the outbreak were consolidated before U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel.
Tennessee victims can expect to get two payments from the settlement fund. The first payment is supposed to equal about 90 percent of what each qualified victim will ultimately collect. A second payment is expected later this year.
The initial checks are generally being sent to lawyers representing victims rather than directly to victims themselves.
The Tennessee victims, like those treated at other clinics, are also getting settlement payments from another trust fund established under the NECC bankruptcy. A court appointed trustee recently reported to Zobel that some 1,852 checks had been issued to victims. (That figure, however, included some payments from clinic settlements other than the Nashville one.)
Payments from both the NECC national fund and the Tennessee settlement fund are based on a point system designed to reflect the severity of the illness suffered.
Tennessee was one of the hardest hit states in the 2012 outbreak. In addition to the Nashville clinic, victims were injected at health facilities in Crossville and Oak Ridge. Suits against those two facilities have not been settled but a mediation session is scheduled for later this month.
Data collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show 153 Tennessee patients were sickened in the outbreak and 16 died.