Deadline nears to register for $4.2-billion breast-implant settlement.
An attorney with the Worcester law firm of Mirick, O'Connell, DeMallie & Lougee, Bassett represents a number of breast-implant claimants.
According to a Court-issued schedule of benefits, qualified claimants may each receive a $105,000 to $1.4 million, though the amounts may be reduced if there are a large number of qualified claimants. There is no registration fee, and all legal and administrative fees will be paid from the settlement fund so there is no cost to the claimant.
Through special coding and other procedures, every effort will be made to maintain confidentiality of claimants and their medical records. Individual settlements will be set based on each claimant's disease, condition, level of disability or severity, age, and the total number of claimants.
"An estimated one million to two million women in the United States have breast implants," Bassett said. "The settlement is intended to protect them for the next 30 years, but those who fail to register may jeopardize any future claims."
Qualifying diseases include: Systematic Sclerosis/Scleroderma, Lupus, Atypical Neurological Disease, Mixed Connective-Tissue Disease/Overlap Syndrome, Polymyositis, Dermatomyositis, Atypical Connective Tissue Disease, Atypical Rheumatic Syndrome, Non-Specific AutoImmune Condition, and Sjogren's Syndrome.
"Registrants do not have to prove that their diseases or conditions were caused by the implants," Bassett said. "However, they must show that their diseases or conditions did not exist before they had implants."
"While the Registration Form asks for the identity of the manufacturer," Bassett said, "women who can prove that they used `reasonable efforts' to locate the manufacturer should not be precluded from the settlement."
The settlement is based on the class-action lawsuit, Heidi Lindsey et al. on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated v. Dow Corning Corporations, et al., which consolidated all other class-action suits. All American manufacturers of breast implants are included as defendants.
The settlement was approved last September by Chief Judge Sam C. Pointer Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. It has been appealed by various foreign claimants and insurers, and the appeal is pending.
Mirick, O'Connell, DeMallie & Lougee of Worcester, Mass., is a 40-member law firm that provides core services in corporate and business law, estate planning and administration, labor and employment law, land use, litigation and municipal law. It also offers cross-departmental and intra-departmental practice groups, such as bankruptcy and workout, high technology, international business, health law, biotechnology, personal injury, banking and environmental law.
BREAST IMPLANT FACT SHEET
A $4.25-billion settlement fund -- the largest class-action settlement in history -- will compensate women with breast implants who have qualifying diseases or conditions, or who develop them during the next 30 years.
o The deadline to register is Dec. 1, 1994. Claims filed by women who register after the deadline will be considered only if payment of the claims would not reduce the amount received by women who registered on time.
o Information from the Court that may affect the future rights of women with implants will be sent only to women who register.
o Claimants will pay no attorneys' fees. Administrative and legal fees will be paid from a specially designated fund.
o A Court-issued schedule of benefits shows that qualified claimants may receive $105,000 to $1.4 million. These amounts may be reduced, depending on the number of qualified claimants.
Who is Eligible?
An estimated 1 million to 2 million women have undergone breast-implant surgery. Women with silicone, silicone gel or saline implants can register even if they do not currently have qualifying diseases.
o Qualifying diseases include: Systematic Sclerosis/Scleroderma, Lupus, Atypical Neurological Disease, Mixed Connective-Tissue Disease/Overlap Syndrome, Polymyositis, Dermatomyositis, Atypical Connective Tissue Disease, Atypical Rheumatic Syndrome, Non-Specific AutoImmune Condition, and Sjogren's Syndrome.
o A claimant need not prove that her disease was caused by silicone, but she must show that it did not exist before she had implants.
o Claimants with more than one qualifying disease will be compensated based on the disease that qualifies for the highest compensation.
The settlement is intended to resolve all claims by breast implant recipients, family members (including spouses) and others.
How the Settlement Is Divided
The $4.2 billion settlement fund includes $2.715 billion for a Disease Compensation Program. The $2.715 billion Disease Compensation Program includes $1.2 billion to cover damages for patients who now have qualifying diseases. The remaining funds in the Disease Compensation Program will compensate patients who develop qualifying diseases during the next 30 years.
In addition to the Disease Compensation Program, there are six additional funds, which cover the following:
Fund I. Costs of medical diagnosis or evaluation that are not covered by insurance.
Fund II. Removal of breast implants if not covered by insurance.
Fund III. Compensation for women with ruptured implants.
Fund IV. Compensation for women who are not suffering from a qualifying disease and who do not have a rupture.
Fund V. Reserve Fund
Fund VI. Administrative expenses, including attorney's fees.
If the total amount claimed through the Current Disease Program exceeds the $1.2 billion allocated for women who currently have qualifying diseases, the scheduled compensation for each case may be reduced. If it is reduced, individuals may have the right to opt out of the settlement and pursue individual lawsuits.
The settlement is based on the class-action lawsuit, Heidi Lindsey et al. on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated v. Dow Corning Corporations, et al., which consolidated other suits. The settlement was approved by the Court on Sept. 1, 1994. A group of foreign claimants and several insurers have filed appeals, which are currently pending.
CONTACT: Mirick, O'Connell, DeMallie & Lougee
Edward C. Bassett Jr., Esq., 508/799-0541 or Donovan Group Tim Trainor, 508/752-6600
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|Date:||Nov 9, 1994|
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