Meningitis outbreak results in Tennessee product liability claims

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Tennessee readers likely heard of the widespread meningitis outbreak resulting from tainted steroids that sickened or killed over 700 people across the nation. Our state had the second highest number of victims in this outbreak. The company that produced and distributed these dangerous steroids was recently declared insolvent in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, which means that those affected in our state are allowed to pursue product liabilityclaims.

The company that produced the steroid filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy late last year. A Tennessee man who lost his wife to the meningitis outbreak filed a motion to have the company declared insolvent. The bankruptcy trustee for the company fought this motion, fearing that it would result in numerous civil suits. Under our state law, if this insolvency ruling hadn’t taken place, the only civil suits allowed would have been for medical negligence.

Here in Tennessee, 168 people became ill with the disease, with 15 of them being fatal cases. With this ruling, these people or their loved ones may be able to pursue civil suits against their health care providers and medical clinics. These suits can be filed through the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, which is consolidating many of these cases.

Thankfully, outbreaks caused by defective drugs are extremely rare. However, if anyone becomes seriously ill as a result of a drug administered by a health care provider, he or she may wish to examine what legal options are available. A successful product liability suit could result in an award for damages for medical expenses as well as pain and suffering caused by the defective drug. Additionally, it can give the victim a sense of closure that will allow him or her to move on from such a traumatic experience.

Source: Reuters, “Tennessee victims in U.S. meningitis outbreak win new avenue for lawsuits,” Tim McLaughlin, July 26, 2013