By Tim McLaughlin
BOSTON Nov 20 Lawyers for New England
Compounding Center's owners told a federal judge on Tuesday
there is no evidence that any of them directly participated in
the events that led to a deadly U.S. meningitis outbreak.
"Due process should not be washed away in a sea of newspaper
articles and conjecture," defense attorney Alan Winchester said.
Winchester made his remarks during a two-hour courtroom
battle in Boston, where defense lawyers for the family that owns
the specialty pharmacy sought to put distance between their
clients and an outbreak that has killed 34 and injured nearly
Barry Cadden, part owner and NECC's chief pharmacist, had
not compounded any drugs at the pharmacy for several years
before the meningitis outbreak, defense lawyer Bruce Singal
said. Cadden's wife, Lisa Cadden, also a part owner, has not
worked as a pharmacist for seven years, Singal told the court.
The defense lawyers also argued to block a motion by
meningitis victims to freeze the assets of NECC and its owners.
U.S. District Judge Dennis Saylor took the matter under
advisement and suggested a ruling could come by next week.
But Thomas Sobol, a lawyer for plaintiffs, disagreed with
the assertions of the defense lawyers. He said Lisa Cadden, for
example, cannot claim to be a soccer mom and then be one of the
key people answering the questions of investigators about NECC's
"This woman shouldn't be entitled to sell her house, her
cars and dissipate her assets," Sobol argued. He wants the judge
to freeze the assets of NECC and its owners so they are not
concealed or put under the protection of bankruptcy or a
Sobol said his motion would not preclude the Caddens or the
other owners of NECC to buy a Thanksgiving turkey or gas for
their cars. But he did ask the judge not to let the Caddens sell
their luxury home in Rhode Island and then put the money in an
account in the Cayman Islands.
Defense lawyers said there is no evidence that NECC's owners
have tried to conceal anything regarding their assets.
Defense lawyer Daniel Rabinovitz said there's nothing to
show that Greg Conigliaro, the recycling entrepreneur and
co-owner who helped his brother-in-law, Barry Cadden, launch
NECC, participated in any conduct related to the outbreak. U.S
authorities say NECC shipped thousands of vials of
fungus-tainted methylprednisolone acetate to medical facilities
throughout the United States.
At one point during the hearing, Judge Saylor talked about
how a passive shareholder cannot be held liable for even the
most outrageous acts of a corporation.
Singal suggested the outbreak was an isolated incident and
told the judge how NECC had been compounding methylprednisolone
acetate, which is typically used to ease back pain, for a number
of years without incident. He said half a million vials had been
shipped without incident over a period of several years.
But Sobol said that was not true, because authorities
investigated an incident involving NECC and the drug several
"My clients are under legal siege," Singal said, referring
to the number of government agencies investigating NECC. "Almost
anybody you can think of, except for NASA, has showed up so