In 2012, more than 750 people contracted fungal meningitis after being exposed to tainted injections. The case is still ravaging families and victims as they try to cope with the changes of life and plans that always result from horrific ordeals such as these.
In addition to altering hundreds of lives, 64 families are still mourning the loss of their relatives, while struggling to make ends meet due to the loss of caregivers, wage earners, parents, and spouses.
The contaminated steroid injections were polluted with traces of fungal meningitis, and the compounding center in New England that was responsible for the tragic negligence and medical malpractice was ordered to pay more than $200 million into a civil fund for victims. The fund also included money from businesses associated with the compounding center and tainted medication. The government stepped in to provide families with federal aid as well.
The fund is designed to provide families with much needed financial assistance to offset the costs of what can only be explained as a life-altering tragedy. The victims who survived the ordeal are now burdened with the additional care that resulted from battling such a deadly illness.
Once the victims united to sue the compounding plant, the prosecutors in the case formally charged the defendants with criminal acts of medical malpractice. Fourteen defendants faced 131 counts of producing unsafe and unsanitary medication and distributing it to the public. The tainted drug outbreak of 2012 sent shockwaves through the medical community and resulted in a massive medical malpractice case, which the victims ultimately won – but did they?
Victims assumed that with news of a financial settlement solidified, they were heading to a long-awaited resolution. Closing this case and paying settlements gives victims a new beginning and an opportunity to heal. These families that have suffered so much are still waiting for the day when they will be able to put all this behind them.
Almost four years later, victims still have not been paid damages from the civil fund. Money intended for the long-term care of those harmed in this medical malpractice case have been stalled due to disagreements between the patient fund and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The agency is negotiating to secure money from the fund it paid on behalf of victims to cover medical issues stemming from the outbreak. A Justice Department dispute is also slowing down the money intended for the families and victims of the epidemic.
Bureaucratic disagreements and fund negotiations are not a new occurrence in class-action cases. When contacted about the case, the Justice Department acknowledged that they were working on releasing the funds for victims, but it was still pending further review.
In the meantime, a bipartisan notice of support was authored by 18 members of Congress and sent to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The letter requested they reconsider the decision to hold the money pending federal agency negotiations. But the OMB confirmed that the issues with the case were still stuck in the Justice Department. The OMB promised to move quickly to resolve the issue once the case was transferred to their office.
Many settlements get stalled, and your lawyer cannot always speed the delivery of your monetary damages, and there is no way to prevent every accident. Victims, in this case, did everything right, and all they can do now is wait for the government to remedy the situation.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a similar situation, and you think medical malpractice played a role in your injury or illness, then contact the experienced attorneys at The Law Offices of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP, in Long Island, New York. We can sit with you to discuss the legal support and solutions available to assist in your medical malpractice suit.