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Victims of meningitis outbreak allowed to file lawsuits

People in Tennessee who were victims of a deadly outbreak of meningitis won the right to file product liability lawsuits against health care facilities and doctors after a U.S. bankruptcy judge declared New England Compounding Center insolvent. Approximately 65 healthcare facilities and doctors were customers of NECC. NECC made and shipped steroid that was reportedly tainted with fungus that caused a meningitis outbreak that injured or killed over 700 people across the nation.

The U.S. bankruptcy judge's ruling is crucial to Tennessee residents because, without the judge's insolvency declaration, they would have only been able to pursue medical malpractice or professional negligence claims in their meningitis cases. Now, however, those people are allowed to file lawsuits against medical providers, health clinics and other people who sold the defective products.

The motion that won the judge's ruling was filed by lawyers who represented a man from Tennessee whose wife died after she received a steroid injection at a medical center in Nashville. In total, there have been 153 meningitis-related cases in Tennessee and 15 deaths in Tennessee. Tennessee was the state that was hit second hardest by the outbreak with Michigan being the first hardest-hit.

The trustee of the NECC bankruptcy case opposed the judge's decision, stating that it could open the floodgates for third-party litigation. The judge's ruling allows plaintiffs to present their product liability claims via the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation where numerous meningitis-related claims are being consolidated.

A products liability lawyer may be able to help people who develop injuries or worsened conditions due to defective products seek compensation for injuries or conditions. Such lawsuits may allow people to receive compensation that could cover their hospital bills and medical expenses as well as help ease their pain and suffering.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Victims in Meningitis Outbreak Cleared to File Product Liability Suits", Tim McLaughlin, July 29, 2013

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