COURT APPROVES CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT FOR PEOPLE WITH BJORK-SHILEY C/C HEART VALVES
COURT APPROVES CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT FOR PEOPLE WITH BJORK-SHILEY C/C HEART VALVES NEW YORK, Aug. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE) announced today that a Federal District Court in Cincinnati has approved the previously announced agreement for a worldwide class action settlement to resolve claims of Bjork-Shiley Convexo/Concave (C/C) heart valve recipients and their spouses. "We are pleased that the Court agreed that this settlement is in the best interests of Shiley heart valve recipients," said William C. Steere, Jr., Pfizer chairman and chief executive officer. "Our primary concern has always been and will continue to be the welfare of people with Shiley C/C heart valves. We have a deep and abiding commitment to them. Under this settlement, these people will receive important benefits in a timely manner as they continue their productive lives. In addition, while we continue to believe that functioning heart valve claims are without merit, this settlement will go far toward putting this complex and time-consuming litigation behind us and help to eliminate the disruptions and uncertainties involved in such litigation." The Bjork-Shiley C/C valve is an artificial heart valve that replaced diseased heart valves. Sold between 1979 and 1986 by Shiley Incorporated, a Pfizer subsidiary, the valve has saved and continues to save tens of thousands of lives. While some valves have experienced failure, nearly 99 percent have functioned as expected. The settlement agreement arose from a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, seeking recovery for alleged anxiety that the plaintiffs' functioning C/C heart valves may fracture some time in the future. As of July 1992, the settlement class consists of an estimated 51,000 people worldwide with functioning C/C valves and their spouses. "This plan is unique. Never before has a company taken such a step to set aside complex and time-consuming litigation and redirect its energies and resources to the benefit of its product users," said Paul S. Miller, Pfizer vice president and general counsel. Miller continued that Pfizer has successfully defended all anxiety litigation brought against it by people with functioning heart valves and could continue to do so. "Instead, the company has proposed to substitute remediation for litigation," he said. The settlement approval follows hearings in June and July on the worldwide class action settlement in Federal Court in Cincinnati. Judge S. Arthur Spiegel presided over the hearings and issued a lengthy opinion approving the settlement. The settlement consists of the following main parts: The Patient Benefit Fund A $75 million fund for C/C valve-related research, including the development of techniques to identify valve recipients who may have significant risk of fracture, and for medical and other expenses they may incur for valve replacement surgery judged medically appropriate under guidelines to be adopted by a court-approved panel of scientific and medical experts. This same panel will also supervise the research program. The Medical Consultation Fund A Consultation Fund of $90 million to $140 million to provide class members with a payment that is intended to be used to obtain consultation with a cardiologist or other health care provider. This includes $10 million to be divided equally among all claimants who are spouses of class members with C/C valves. Fracture Compensation A guaranteed compensation program, which will be offered to claimants in the unlikely event of valve fracture. The compensation program, which serves as a kind of insurance, is based upon factors such as recipient income, marital status and number of dependents. The settlement is expected to cost Pfizer between $165 million and $215 million, on a pre-tax basis. The gain on the sale of certain Shiley assets earlier this year, as well as expected insurance reimbursements, substantially offset these costs. The company believes that the costs connected with the settlement agreement should not result in any material impact on 1992 earnings. Pfizer urged valve recipients and their spouses who have not previously been in contact with the attorney representing the settlement class, Stanley M. Chesley, to write: Stanley M. Chesley, Esq.
Waite, Schneider, Bayless & Chesley Co., L.P.A. 1513 Central Trust Tower Cincinnati, Ohio 45202.
Pfizer Inc is a diversified, research-based health care company with global operations. The company reported sales of approximately $6.95 billion for 1991. -0- 8/19/92 /CONTACT: Bob Fauteux, 714-250-8446, or Rick Honey, 212-573-2051, both of Pfizer/ (PFE) CO: Pfizer Inc ST: New York, Ohio IN: MTC SU:
AH -- NY061 -- 1453 08/19/92 15:55 EDT
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|Date:||Aug 19, 1992|
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