The Tennessean, by Walter F. Roche, Jr. —
A federal judge has officially declared insolvent the drug compounding firm blamed for the deaths of 15 patients treated in Tennessee, an action that clears the way for victims and their survivors to sue other parties under the state product liability law.
In a three-page order issued Wednesday in Springfield, Mass., U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Henry J. Boroff granted the request filed by the Nashville attorney representing a McMinnville man whose wife died in last year’s fungal meningitis outbreak.
With the declaration of New England Compounding Center’s insolvency, Bertram Bryant Jr. can file suit in Tennessee under the provisions of the state product liability statute. His wife, Margaret, died on Sept. 18 last year.
The motion was opposed by attorneys for Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center and other Tennessee health-care providers where patients were injected with fungus-tainted steroids from NECC last year. Margaret Bryant was injected with methylprednisolone acetate at the Nashville clinic a month and a day before her death.
Lawyers for the facilities had argued that even with the declaration, claims could not be made against health-care providers because they were not the sellers of the tainted drugs.
“The conclusion that NECC is insolvent has no substantive impact on the legal liability of our clients,” said C.J. Gideon, lawyer for the health-care providers including Saint Thomas.
Nashville attorney Michael Galligan filed the motion for the insolvency declaration just last week and asked that it be handled on an expedited basis.
“This is an important step for Tennessee families seeking to hold wrongdoers accountable under laws designed to keep Tennesseans safe from contaminated medications,” said Mark Chalos, who represents some of the victims.
“The court rejected Saint Thomas’ arguments. The families will continue to fight to hold the wrongdoers accountable,” he added.
In other action during the hearing, Boroff denied a motion to set Oct. 15 as the final deadline for anyone to file claims against NECC.
Boroff did approve a motion for the bankruptcy trustee to hire a New York law firm to assist him.