Woman sues company at center of deadly U.S. meningitis outbreak


By David Bailey

MINNEAPOLIS, Oct 11 (Reuters) - A Minnesota woman who saysshe received injections of the steroid at the center of a deadlyoutbreak of fungal meningitis in the United States on Thursdaysued the company that made the suspect medication.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Minnesota, saidthat Barbe Puro of Savage, Minnesota, suffered "bodily harm,emotional distress, and other personal injuries" after beinginjected on Sept. 17 with doses of the steroid medication.

Puro is the first apparent victim of tainted steroidinjections to sue the Framingham, Massachusetts-based NewEngland Compounding Center (NECC) - the company at the center ofa meningitis outbreak that has killed 14 people. As many as14,000 people received injections from suspect shipments of thesteroid treatments produced by NECC.

Representatives of the company did not immediately respondto emails and phone calls seeking comment on the lawsuit.

Puro, who suffers from chronic back pain, said in thelawsuit that she suffered headaches and nausea for a week afterreceiving the injections at a medical clinic in Shakopee,Minnesota, a suburb southwest of Minneapolis.

The Minnesota state health department told Puro last weekthat her injections were from the suspect medication, said herlawyer, Jeffrey Montpetit. They told her to be tested forpossible fungal meningitis.

Puro underwent a spinal tap and blood work and is awaitingthe results of those tests, Montpetit said in a telephoneinterview. Puro was injured several years ago in a fall whilewalking a dog, he said.

"The problem is they are treating for a pain issue to beginwith," Montpetit said of the patients. "When they get an onsetof symptoms it doesn't naturally occur to them that this issomething different than what they have been dealing with."

The lawsuit proposes a class comprised of Minnesotaresidents who received the possibly tainted injections sinceJune this year.

There have been three reported meningitis cases inMinnesota, where about 830 people were treated with the suspectsteroids. The company shipped the medication to 23 states.

The lawsuit is Barbe Puro v. New England CompoundingPharmacy Inc, U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, No.12-2605.

(Reporting by David Bailey; editing by Grant McCool andMohammad Zargham)

((david.bailey@thomsonreuters.com)(312 371 4002))