November 12, 2012 — The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) is currently considering whether to centralize hundreds of potential fungal meningitis lawsuits into one federal court. On November 8, New England Compounding Center (NECC), the company linked to the outbreak, submitted a motion to fully support the transfer of and consolidation of cases into one centralized federal district court.

The outbreak of fungal meningitis was linked to contaminated medicines from NECC. As of today, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported that 438 people have fallen ill and 32 people have died in 19 states. NECC recalled all lots of all medicines at the beginning of October, but because meningitis has an incubation period, new cases continue to be reported.

NECC has requested the District of Massachusetts in Boston as the court best suited for the litigation. NECC is located in Massachusetts and the location would be convenient for documents and witnesses, among other reasons.

NECC also stated that they were aware of at least 28 lawsuits filed, including 5 class actions, in seven U.S. District Courts located in five states. However, “NECC estimates that hundreds of additional personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits will eventually be filed.” Furthermore, “New lawsuits are being filed daily.”

It is possible that thousands of additional people who were exposed but not infected may join the litigation against NECC. Many people who did not get sick still suffered anxiety, expensive medical check-ups, lost wages, and painful spinal taps to test cerebrospinal fluid for fungal infections.

It is likely that the JPML will centralize the lawsuits into a Multi-district Litigation (MDL), because they all involve similar injuries and legal questions. Establishing an MDL before one judge also reduces the risk of conflicting rulings in various courts, eliminates duplicative discovery, serves the convenience of the parties, conserves court resources, and often expedites a resolution of grievances.


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