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First Lawsuit Filed Over Meningitis Outbreak

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on October 15, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The meningitis outbreak that stemmed from contaminated pain medication has over a hundred victims so far but only one has filed a lawsuit.

Barbe Puro received a steroid injection for chronic back pain in September and shortly after the injection she suffered headaches and nausea. But she was later informed that the shots she received may have been contaminated. To test for meningitis Puro had to undergo a painful spinal tap, reports Bloomberg Businessweek.

Her lawsuit seeks to hold the company responsible for the injuries she suffered and for the injuries suffered by everyone who received the tainted drugs.

Federal health officials estimate that as many as 14,000 people could have received contaminated shots in 23 states across the country.

So far there are confirmed cases of meningitis in 11 states and about 170 have fallen ill. At least 14 people have died so far since the outbreak began, according to Reuters.

Puro filed a lawsuit seeking damages for her injuries but it also seeks class action status.

A class action is a lawsuit that allows a large group of people who've been affected by the same problem to file a claim as one unit rather than as individual lawsuits. For it to work the parties need to show that they were affected by similar problems from the same source based on a set of tests set up the by the Supreme Court.

To create a class action suit Puro and her attorney will have to meet those tests. They'll also have to find other people sickened by the contaminated steroid shots who wish to join the suit.

Puro is the first person who has filed suit, reports Bloomberg Businessweek. But that doesn't mean she'll be the only one to do so especially given the circumstances surrounding the contamination.

New England Compounding Center of Massachusetts produced the contaminated steroids and has already shut down and surrendered its license.

The state health regulator accused it of violating state laws for pharmacies. If that's true there could be liability for the damage caused.

Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut is calling for a criminal probe into the issue although so far none has started. Currently the pharmacy is cooperating with investigations by the Centers For Disease Control into the outbreak.

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