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ELPO successfully represents 32 defendants in tainted injections cases

By Bob Young, Managing Partner
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley LLP

In 2012, there was a national outbreak of fungal meningitis caused by poor manufacturing conditions at New England Compounding Company (NECC). Out of the 753 cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control, 234 individuals contacted fungal meningitis, while more than 300 individuals suffered from fungal infections. Sixty-four patients in nine states died.

We represented 32 patients from Kentucky and Tennessee, tracking the cases through the courts for more than five years. Even as NECC filed bankruptcy and the clinic that administered the injections in Tennessee closed down, we still gained settlements for our clients.

It was an incredibly complicated case, but for our team, it was all in a day’s (or a few year’s) work.

The lawsuits

close-up-injection-instrument-415816-300x200Our firm represented clients from Kentucky and Tennessee who had received preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate (MPA) injections at St. Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center (STOPNC) in Nashville, Tennessee during the summer of 2012. New England Compounding Company manufactured those injections. That fall, it became public that the injections were tainted after patients were diagnosed with meningitis and other medical issues relating to the injections.

The issues at NECC were numerous, including a lack of cleanliness at the factory where the injections were made. NECC sold and shipped those tainted vials to STOPNC, which gave the injections to patients.

There were a number of defendants in these cases. Most were involved with the manufacturing of the tainted vials of MPA, but defendants also included STOPNC, other St. Thomas entities (as owners), Dr. John Culclasure, the medical director of STOPNC and Debra Schamberg, a registered nurse who worked at STOPNC and was in charge of ordering the injections.

STOPNC bought the injections in bulk, which was not allowed by law. Instead, the medical facility was required to have a prescription for each vial purchased. Evidence came out in discovery that showed STOPNC medical officials submitted a client list to NECC that included the name “Mickey Mouse.” STOPNC closed down briefly and discarded all of the vials, but not before the damage was done.

We filed three lawsuits: Besaw et al v Ameridose, LLC et. al. (16 Kentucky plaintiffs); Barger et al v. Ameridose, LLC (13 Tennessee plaintiffs); and Ferguson et. al. v Ameridose, LLC et. al. (three Tennessee plaintiffs). The cases were all filed in United States District Court, Middle District of Tennessee. All of the cases were transferred to the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

We also helped four individuals who received injections at St. Mary’s Surgicare in Indiana. They received settlements from the bankruptcy court, but their cases are still pending in Indiana.

Following the cases

For a case such as this with multiple defendants and dozens of plaintiffs, it’s all about meticulous record-keeping, asking the right questions and continuing to follow the case through the courts. While we started in federal court in Tennessee, we ended up in a consolidated case in federal court in Massachusetts. We also had to keep up with the NECC bankruptcy case, and keep an eye on state courts in Tennessee and Massachusetts.

Our legal team on this case included several attorneys who doggedly pursued the truth of what happened, and several talented paralegals who helped us keep all of our clients informed and records up-to-date. In these complicated cases, you absolutely have to have a crack paralegal team to handle all of the details, and we relied heavily on ours, particularly the work of Bridget Stratton. We could not have handled this without her.

Five years yields results

The first settlement involved the NECC bankruptcy. We received our first payment for clients in February of 2017. Our clients received the second payment from the NECC Bankruptcy in August 2017.

A settlement was also reached for cases against the STOPNC defendants and our clients received the first payment from them in April 2017 and the final payment in December 2017.

Though it was not part of our case, the pharmacist at NECC faced criminal charges. Glenn Chin, 49, of Canton, Mass., was convicted of 77 criminal counts in federal court in fall 2017, and sentenced to eight years in prison, two years supervised release and restitution to be determined later. The criminal conviction in this case shows just how egregious the issues were with NECC.

We can help you

This was not the first complicated mass tort case that we have handled. We also handled cases against the manufacturer of Vioxx, and we continue to handle cases against other drug manufacturers including the manufacturers of the prescription drugs Actos, Xarelto and Zofran.

The key, as we mentioned, is meticulously following the cases and staying up to date, and knowing what questions to ask. Our firm has a 40-plus year track record of handling these type of cases, and we have a great reputation for keeping clients updated and informed about the status of their cases. We can do that for you, too.

If you’d like to talk to us about your personal injury case, contact me, attorney Bob Young, at (270) 781-6500 or byoung@elpolaw.com.