Settlement reached in meningitis death lawsuit from New England Compounding Center outbreak

by Charles Miller

Douglas Wingate of Salem, Virginia died of fungal meningitis in 2012 after receiving a contaminated steroid injection at Insight Imaging of Roanoke, Virginia. A $25 million wrongful death lawsuit against the clinic has recently been settled, according to court documents which did not disclose the amount of the settlement.

The lawsuit was filed by Wingate’s family against Insight Health Corp. in December 2012. Wingate was being treated for back pain when he received the contaminated epidural steroid injection. He was among the hundreds of people sickened by tainted steroid injections produced by New England Compounding Center, a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy.

Numerous lawsuits filed since the October 2012 meningitis outbreak have implicated clinics such as Insight as well as New England Compounding Center. Federal investigators have said the Massachusetts company mass-produced the tainted steroids. The injections, used to treat back pain and other ailments, were then distributed to clinics across the country. By the time New England Compounding filed for bankruptcy, 64 people had died and more than 750 had become seriously ill in 20 states, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lawsuits in federal court against the compounding company have been on hold pending the bankruptcy proceedings. Wingate’s case was allowed to proceed in state court because it did not name New England Compounding as a defendant.

The lawsuit alleged that Wingate and other patients at Insight were told they were getting a safe, name-brand drug. Instead, the suit alleges, they were provided the dangerous “knock-off” variety manufactured in unsafe conditions at the New England Compounding headquarters, located next to a landfill in Framingham, Massachusetts. The lawsuit alleged that, after getting the contaminated injections, patients at Insight were billed for the higher cost of an FDA-approved name-brand drug.

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