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Meningitis outbreak litigation moves beyond pharmacy

Most of our New Jersey readers are probably familiar by now with the story of the national meningitis outbreak, which has spread to several states and has affected numerous Americans. What our readers may not know, however, is how the legal fight against those alleged to be responsible for this medical malpractice is spreading, right here in New Jersey.

According to the recent reports, several plaintiffs are going beyond suing the main company thought to be to blame for the outbreak, the New England Compounding Center, and are now filing lawsuits against individual physicians and clinics. The most likely reason is because the New England Compounding Center has been deluged by lawsuits in the aftermath of the deadly outbreak. However, it is not immediately clear which parties will be able to recover directly from the pharmacy and what types of settlements the pharmacy will be able to offer. As such, injured patients are also turning to doctors and hospitals in the search for the parties responsible for this outbreak.

The fight could come down to a specific legal definition. If the injections are defined as a product sold, the plaintiffs could go forward with a product liability claim – and the lower standard of proof which comes with it. But, if the injections are defined as a service, the plaintiffs will need to proceed under medical malpractice laws, which have a more difficult burden of proof.

Medical negligence is a serious matter, and anyone who has been watching the news in recent weeks knows that there is little doubt that someone needs to be held responsible for this massive outbreak. The only questions appear to be who it will be, and what type of settlement or trial verdict the injured patients and their families will receive.

Source: Huffington Post, “Success Of Meningitis Lawsuits Depends On How Injections Are Defined” Nick Brown, Oct. 24, 2012

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