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Spec ops major sues, alleges tainted treatment caused meningitis

Sep. 17, 2013 - 05:26PM   |  
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A second Tennessee soldier stricken with fungal meningitis has filed a lawsuit in connection with a tainted steroid.

The lawsuit says Maj. Adam C. Ziegler, an Iraq and Afghanistan combat veteran assigned to a special operations unit, alleges he received the tainted steroid while being treated for a hip injury at a clinic in Nashville.

The lawsuit says Ziegler, 33, of Woodlawn, Tenn., “became very ill” and was hospitalized for 19 days last October with a painful fungal infection of his joints, bones and muscles.

“Major Ziegler is still being treated with anti-fungal medications and there is a possibility that he will be required to take these medications for the rest of his life,” says the 52-page complaint, filed Sept. 11 in U.S. District Court in Nashville.

“Major Ziegler continues to suffer pain and nerve damage in his feet and legs,” it says.

There have been 750 cases of fungal meningitis, 64 of them fatal, linked to contaminated lots of the steroid methylprednisolone acetate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Another soldier, Sgt. Joshua Kirkwood, 24, filed a $7 million lawsuit Sept. 5 alleging a tainted steroid treatment he underwent in Nashville gave him fungal meningitis. Kirkwood had been deployed overseas and was airlifted to Maryland for treatment.

As in Kirkwood’s lawsuit, the named defendants in Ziegler’s lawsuit include the individual owners of the New England Compounding Center, the now-closed company blamed by regulators for shipping the tainted steroids to health facilities across the country. Other defendants include the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center and the Howell Allen Clinic, part owner of the outpatient center.

Ziegler has been a soldier for 11 years, five of them in an unnamed special operations unit, according to his lawsuit. He spent more than three years in combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ziegler’s lawsuit, first reported by The Tennessean, alleges he received a tainted methylprednisolone acetate injection at Saint Thomas Neurosurgical on Sept. 11, 2012, for a hip injury from airborne jump training.

On Sept. 27 and Oct. 4, Ziegler went to the Army emergency room at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital at Fort Campbell, Ky., for severe pain in his back and buttocks.

On the second visit, Ziegler stayed for 19 days.

Ziegler and his wife, Sarah, are seeking damages for his physical and mental pain and suffering, as well as punitive damages.

“The long-term effects of [Ziegler’s] illness are unknown,” the lawsuit states.

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