Eight plaintiffs who received tainted steroid injections from a doctor at a Maryland clinic filed a motion to consolidate all the cases for a single trial. The doctor illegally obtained the methylprednisone acetate (MPA) from the New England Compounding Pharmacy, Inc. (NECC), which dispensed the drug, causing a nationwide menigitis outbreak in 2012, according to the motion.
The cases are among 377 actions in MDL 2419: New England Compounding Pharmacy, Inc., Products Liability Litigation, Docket No. 1:13-md-2419 (RWZ), before US District Judge Rya W. Zobel in the District of Massachusetts.
NECC is defunct and the plaintiffs are suing Box Hill Surgery Center, LLC, an ambulatory surgical center in Harford County, Maryland, outside of Baltimore, and Dr. Ritu T. Bhambhani, M.D., an anesthesia/pain medicine specialist. He administered the fungus-tainted MPA to Brenda Rozek (deceased), John Millhausen (deceased), Linda Torbeck, Bahman Kashi (deceased), Edna Young (deceased), Belinda Dreisch, Teresa Davis, and Angela Farthing.
“All eight of these patients suffered serious injuries (fungal infections) and four died after their infections progressed to meningitis,” the motion states.
Violating pharmacy laws
The plaintiffs also allege that Dr. Bhambhani obtained the MPA from NECC by mail in violation of Massachusetts’ pharmacy laws, which require patient-specific prescriptions.
Attorneys Patricia J. Kasputys of Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos, P.C. in Baltimore and Harry M. Roth of Cohen, Placitella & Roth PC in Philadelphia argue that the actions should be resolved in one trial because there are common parties, common issues of law, and common issues of fact.
The actions allege negligence, lack of informed consent, violation of Massachusetts consumer protection laws, and loss of consortium. Four are wrongful death cases, and the others are:
- Teresa Davis was injected with NECC MPA on 7/20/12 and 8/17/12. At age 55, she was diagnosed with fungal meningitis, underwent painful and invasive medical treatment, and was administered anti-fungal medications for 90 days.
- Belinda Dreisch was injected with NECC MPA by Dr. Bhambhani at Box Hill on 7/13/12 and on 8/24/2012. At age 56, she was diagnosed with meningitis and became permanently disabled. Ms. Dreisch was hospitalized multiple times, was on anti-fungal medications for 390 days, and spent 30 days in a rehabilitation facility. She has endured 13 lumbar punctures as well as other painful and invasive diagnostic procedures and has suffered complications, including acute kidney failure, liver toxicity, hair loss, cellulitis, and arachnoiditis.
- Angela Farthing received NECC MPA injections administered by Dr. Bhambhani at Box Hill on 6/29/12 and 8/31/12. At age 41, she was diagnosed with fungal meningitis and continues to suffer from permanent, incurable arachnoiditis. Ms. Farthing has been hospitalized and has required rehabilitation, physical therapy, and home health care for functional limitations and weakness. She was on anti-fungal medication for 230 days. Complications she has endured include brain aneurysm, stroke, spinal abscesses, requiring surgical procedures, and acute kidney injury.
- Linda Torbeck was injected with NECC MPA by Dr. Bhambhani at Box Hill on 8/31/12. At age 66, she was diagnosed with fungal meningitis, requiring two hospitalizations, painful and invasive medical treatments, and physical therapy. Ms. Torbeck required antifungal medication for 416 days. She suffered complications, including arachnoiditis, acute kidney injury, and anemia.