MOTTVILLE, Mich. — A southwest Michigan woman says she is in fear every day that she will come down with fungal meningitis.
She is one of the first people to file suit against the New England pharmaceutical company linked to the nationwide outbreak of the disease.
When Lori Cavanaugh pushed play on her answering machine a few weeks ago, she wasn't expecting to hear a message from her doctor at OSMC in Elkhart letting her know an injection she received on July 31 for her chronic back pain was tainted and could cause her to come down with fungal meningitis.
"We would like you to be evaluated by your family doctor or the emergency department right away," the message said.
"It's scary," Cavanaugh said as she explained how she had to go to the ER, put on a mask, undergo blood work and get a spinal tap, a procedure she says was extremely painful, especially so because it took doctors several tries to get the needle in properly.
"It was like 10,000 volts of electricity going down my leg. My brother was down the hall and he said he could hear me screaming. It was the worst experience of my life."
It was an experience that led her to file a 13-page lawsuit against the New England Compounding Center out of Massachusetts. The company is allegedly responsible for manufacturing the contaminated drug. In the court documents filed in Texas, Cavanaugh is claiming bodily harm, emotional distress and seeking reimbursement for medical expenses.
"It was dangerous what they put in our bodies. You know it's pretty serious and people are dying from it."
So far, tests have indicated Cavanaugh does not have meningitis, but her doctor says she could still develop it.
"I'm doing a lot of praying...doing a lot of praying."
"Is it something you think about every day?" asked reporter Denise Bohn.
"Oh my goodness, yes. It's definitely hard not to, especially when you have a 14-year-old girl you know you want to make sure you're here."
Cavanaugh is the lead plaintiff in this class action lawsuit.
Her attorney, Ed Jazlowiecki of Edward Jazlowiecki Law Offices based out of Connecticut, says the reason Cavanaugh's lawsuit is being filed in Texas is because there is a high amount of other victims there and Texas is known as a favorable venue for lawsuits of this type. He is seeking damages for Cavanaugh for more than $75,000.
Cavanaugh says one of the main goals of her suit is to make sure the pharmaceutical company never gets their license back.