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Elkhart County Patients Hit Hard by Fungal Meningitis

Guy DiMartino Oct. 31, 2014

Northwest Indiana medical malpractice lawyer discusses the increase in fungal meningitis contracted by Elkhart county residents at

I have written about NECC and the fungal meningitis outbreak. Indiana now has 41 reported cases of fungal meningitis linked to a steroid produced by NECC. Over two-thirds of the reports have occurred in Elkhart County. To date, Elkhart has seen 28 cases of this devastating condition.

On October 10th a patient died who received an epidural steroid injection at OSMC Outpatient Surgery Center from fungal meningitis. The Indiana Department of Health reported that 1,502 patients were exposed to the fungal laden steroid at five other clinics in Indiana that are located in South Bend, Fort Wayne, Columbus, Terre Haute and Evansville.

Nationwide, the CDC reported 312 cases of fungal meningitis in which 24 patients have died. Additionally, 5 patients have contracted a fungal infection after receiving an injection in a joint such as the knee.

Will there be enough money to compensate the victims?

To date, there are already 317 potential claimants related to this fungal outbreak. As a lawyer, if I'm asked to assist an injured person or family of a deceased individual to receive compensation for injuries or death, I have to analyze whether the defendant has the means to compensate the client.

NECC is a relatively small compounding pharmacist. Generally, compounding pharmacists are not drug manufacturers. They prepare special preparations for patients that are not massed produced and sold in typical pharmacies like CVS or Walgreens. Based on recent reports, it appears that NECC was practicing beyond its scope of practice and license in the State of Massachusetts.

Since NECC is not a large drug company, it probably does not have millions of dollars in the bank. It is my guess that the only recovery that will be available for the victims will be from a liability insurance policy. Even if there is a 5 or 10 million dollar insurance policy in effect, there still will not be enough money to adequately compensate the victims or the victims' families for what has gone on.

This is a similar reality to the Indiana Stage Collapse issue with Indiana's tort claim act compensating the aggregate amount of compensation at five million dollars. The lack of insurance proceeds is something we see often in personal injury cases. For instance, a person is involved in the car accident and has injuries worth over $100,000 and the other driver has a $25,000 insurance policy and no other means to pay the judgment. If the injured clients do not have the means to pay their medical expenses, we are all left paying for the negligence.

What are your thoughts about this? Should the patients injured or the families of the injured patients be compensated? And if so, by who?

If you have any questions about a fungal meningitis claim, call one of our Indiana personal injury lawyers.