$2.6 million complaint filed against Illinois by British Ecosse Hospital Products

Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois has had a legal complaint demanding nearly $2.6 million filed against him by a British wholesaler Ecosse Hospital Products Ltd. for 254,250 doses of a flu vaccine ordered by Blagojevich to provide thousands of flu vaccine doses for Illinois.

It filed a complaint March 16 with the Illinois Court of Claims accusing the state of breach of contract. The state's chief financial officer has refused to pay.

Blagojevich ordered the vaccine from Europe last autumn amid fears of a national flu shot shortage and although the state had a contract to buy the doses, it was unable to import them because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had not approved the European vaccine.

State Comptroller Dan Hynes has argued the FDA's refusal to allow the imports should let the state cancel the contract. He cited a provision that allows termination for "unforeseeable circumstances beyond its reasonable control"

He believes based on the language of the contract that they took appropriate action.

Ecosse lawyer Stephen Tagge said the complaint was filed in the Illinois Court of Claims because the state's contract directed that any claim arising from the contract be filed there. He declined to comment further.

Melissa Merz, spokeswoman for Attorney General Lisa Madigan says a commissioner will be assigned to hear the case and make a recommendation to the court. The state has 60 days to respond to Ecosse's complaint.

National attention was drawn to Blagojevich in October when he arranged to buy 700,000 doses of flu vaccine overseas amid worries over a U.S. shortage of the vaccine. New York City, Cleveland and New Mexico signed onto the deal.

Ecosse has not filed complaints against Cleveland and New Mexico and a spokesman for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said he did not know if Ecosse had filed a complaint against the city, but said the city has not paid Illinois for the flu shots.

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