Monday, December 23, 2013

Preliminary Settlement Agreements Exceeding $100M in NECC Deadly Meningitis Outbreak Litigation Announced By Plaintiffs' Steering Committee

I'm one of the seven lawyers appointed by Judge Saylor in the tainted epidural steroid litigation, currently before the Court in Boston, Massachusetts.

There is news today that gives the victims of this tragedy some small measure of good news:

The Court-appointed Plaintiffs' Steering Committee (PSC), charged with speaking for hundreds of victims of tainted steroids produced by the New England Compounding Pharmacy, Inc. (NECC), today announced a preliminary settlement with the owners, operators and insurers of the bankrupt NECC.

A conditional agreement has been reached between bankruptcy trustee Paul D. Moore, the PSC and the Unsecured Creditors Committee under which the Cadden and Conigliaro families, the insurers of NECC and related company Ameridose, have promised to pay to a compensation fund an amount that may exceed $100 million. This fund will allow victims who received injections of tainted steroids made by NECC to seek a measure of justice against those wrongdoers.

The agreements are not final, require due diligence on the part of the PSC to ensure the rights to victims are protected under these agreements, and will be conditional upon approval by creditors and a federal court for fairness and adequacy.

Thomas M. Sobol, lead counsel for the PSC in the national litigation pending before a federal court in Boston, said, "The PSC has worked hard over the last several months to evaluate the liability of everyone involved in this tragedy and the tentative agreements are a big step forward in getting justice for victims. However, we must all be mindful that the agreements still require much work in order to protect the rights of victims. We also recognize that any amount of money would be grossly inadequate to compensate the families of those persons killed and others grievously injured by the callous conduct of those in charge of NECC."

Sobol said, "This is but one chapter in this saga; litigation will continue against medical clinics, doctors, hospitals and other companies who were hired by NECC that bear responsibility to those who were badly injured or who died horrible and painful deaths as a result of having the injection of the tainted product into their bodies. This case is not over until all the wrongdoers have been brought to justice."

"The proposed settlement does not resolve families' claims against the corporate-owned clinics that sold and injected these contaminated medications, such as St. Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery Clinic in Nashville, Tenn., and other related St. Thomas companies. Numerous St. Thomas patients died or suffered serious illnesses as a result of receiving contaminated medications sold and administered at St. Thomas' Nashville facility," said PSC Member Gerard Stranch.

"These corporate-owned companies chose to put profits over patient safety, as detailed in the hundreds of lawsuits filed against these companies, including St. Thomas, by families whose loved ones died or suffered serious injuries," said PSC Member Mark Chalos, who also represents a number of affected families. "Any corporation that endangers our families by breaking patient safety rules should be held accountable for their conduct - no matter how rich or powerful those corporations are," said Chalos.

There is no deadline set for when details of the proposal will be made public.

The next court hearing in connection with this case is scheduled for January 10, 2014, at which point further due diligence will have been undertaken and additional details can likely be released. Full and complete information will be released to the public in due course and all victims who file a proof of claim in the Bankruptcy Court will have the opportunity to support or oppose the settlement.

Stay tuned