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(NECN: Ally Donnelly, Wrentham, Mass.) - This house in Wrentham, Mass. is one of Barry Cadden's homes. He's the co-owner and head pharmacist of the now-shuttered New England Compounding Center. Lawyers for two alleged victims in the meningitis outbreak have asked a judge to freeze up to $461 million in assets for NECC, sister company Ameridose and its owners.
“This is a small family-owned company with unknown assets,” said lawyer Tom Sobol. “It likely has little insurance relative to the number of claims that would be pending."
Hoping to be granted class action status, Sobol represents a single mother in Pennsylvania and a New Hampshire man. Both say they contracted meningitis after being injected with tainted steroids from the Framingham Pharmacy.
32 people have died in the outbreak and nearly 490 have been hurt. In federal court in Boston Sobol told the judge he worried the plaintiffs -- who he says have shown a complete disregard for public health -- could liquidate assets, transfer them to the Cayman Islands and cry poor when alleged victims try to sue them.
“We don't have all the evidence,” Sobol said. “OK, but you can put two and two together.”
Attorneys representing NECC, Cadden and a number of other defendants say the plaintiffs' attorneys are putting the cart before the horse. Though they wouldn't comment on camera, NECC lawyer Allen Winchester told the judge that none of the defendants have been served with a complaint and freezing their assets this early on would be bypassing the judicial process.
“It belies credibility really, for someone to say, we don't know who did what when or how,” Sobol said. “You know exactly what happened, you know that 32 people are dead in this country as a result of what that company did.
U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor did not immediately rule, but said he doubted he would freeze the assets.
The judge says although he's doubtful about a number of propositions laid out by the defendants attorneys, he does want to give it more thought and has scheduled another hearing for next Wednesday.