PUBLIC SAFETY
6:21 am
Sun November 18, 2012

State Lawmakers Deal With Fallout From Meningitis Outbreak

Federal agents investigate the offices of the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass. on Oct. 23, 2012.
Credit Barry Chin / AP

A nearly 200-year-old Massachusetts statute outlining the penalties for corporate manslaughter is being thrust into the spotlight as lawmakers wrestle with the fallout from a deadly meningitis outbreak.

The investigation into the Framingham-based New England Compounding Center is still ongoing, and no charges have been brought.

But Attorney General Martha Coakley says the case illustrates the need to change the law, which hasn't been updated since it was signed in 1819.

That law set a top penalty for corporate manslaughter at $1,000.

Coakley wants the maximum fine increased to $250,000, and has pushed legislation at the Statehouse that would make the change.

That legislation was filed following the fatal Big Dig ceiling panel collapse in 2006, but it has failed to make it to the governor's desk.