In 2012, a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak sickened 751 people and killed 64. The outbreak was traced to contaminated medication used for epidural steroid injections. Tennessee was one of the states hit hardest by the outbreak, where 153 were sickened and 16 died.
In the wake of the deadly outbreak, dozens of the victims or their survivors have filed personal injury and wrongful death claims against the New England Compounding Center, which was determined to be the source of the tainted drugs.
Many of the lawsuits have been consolidated in federal court, and it was recently announced that Nashville-area plaintiffs could be the first to have their claims go to trial. These cases could then serve as “bellwether” lawsuits, which is a way of using the results of a few lawsuits to determine the outcome of many other similar claims.
An attorney representing the plaintiffs in the fungal meningitis cases recently asked the federal judge to hear two or more cases involving Nashville-area plaintiffs who were infected at the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center.
The attorney asked that these trials should occur first and “hopefully in early spring of 2015.” An attorney who is representing several of the Nashville plaintiffs said that these claims were chosen to kick of the litigation because of the large number of victims from the area.
The deadline to file a claim in the matter was Jan. 15, though it was reported that many plaintiffs missed this date.
Some of the plaintiffs said they have not gotten sick from the epidural steroid injections they received, but filed claims to protect their right to recovery in the event that they do get sick.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that it is possible for people to develop fungal meningitis months or even years after being exposed.