Former employees who worked for Montana University are set to receive compensation due to a settlement the class of plaintiffs reached with the university. The plaintiffs alleged they were denied medical insurance claims due to a clause the university had in its contract that conflicted with Montana state law. Montana University operated their own health insurance program. Montana has a “made whole” statute that says the person injured has taken care of before the insurance companies hammer out which one is responsible for paying for the treatment. Montana University’s clause stated they were not responsible for paying if another insurance policy was available. As a result, many of the employees who found themselves paying out of pocket for treatment that should have been paid by the university. A group of former employees got together and filed a lawsuit against the university. A settlement was reached where the university will begin compensating the plaintiffs. The university also removed the clause prohibiting spending on their employees. Some news reports state compensation can run from a couple of hundred to $120,000 to some plaintiffs. In December, a hearing has been scheduled to follow up on the compensation proceedings. An estimated 45,000 people may be eligible for compensation.
Archive for Settlements, Judgments, & Awards
According to various news reports, a federal judge gave final approval to a $25 million settlement agreement former students reached with Trump University. The students, who attended the school to receive specialized education in real estate, accused the university of fraud. Some students allegedly paid between $1,000 to $35,000 to attend classes. They were promised the opportunity to learn the secrets of getting rich in real estate. In addition, the ability to access private financing options. The students said both turned out not to be true. They say they were deceived by the promises of Trump University and were pressured by officials at the school to buy and elevate their package causing them to pay more money.
During the 2016 presidential election, then candidate Donald Trump vowed to keep fighting the lawsuit even insulting the plaintiffs. Days after the election, the trial was set to commence. Instead a settlement between the plaintiffs and the university had been announced. Preliminary approval was given in December and final approval was rendered by a federal judge of the settlement. Trump University and Donald Trump did not admit guilt. The specifics of the settlement include $21 million for the estimated plaintiffs to split among themselves. Most observers expect the plaintiffs will receive at least half of what they spent if they aren’t made whole. $4 million will go to the settle the New York State lawsuits against the university. The plaintiff attorneys’ who litigated the case graciously decided not to take their fees and absorb the costs of pursuing the case.
Within the past couple of years, lawsuits have been filed against companies like Johnson & Johnson in regards to products containing talcum powder. Research has shown that talcum powder is an unsafe sterilizing agent that can lead to ovarian cancer in women who use products like Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder around their genital area. While Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based powder is labeled as Baby Powder, they market their product for women’s use too.
Studies have been conducted since the 1980s on the negative side effects of talcum powder use in the female genital area, but Johnson & Johnson never informed their consumers about the risk of using their products containing the powder because the results were inconclusive; there was no grounding evidence to support the link between ovarian cancer and talcum powder (though past and recent claims would suggest otherwise).
What exactly is talcum powder?
According to The American Cancer society, talc powder is essentially a mineral comprised of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. It can be used as a sterilizing agent, and is the first named ingredient in Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder.
Where is the link between ovarian cancer and talcum powder?
Women who use talc-based products like Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder for feminine hygiene are at risk of forming ovarian cancer due to talc particles getting trapped in their ovarian tissues. Trapped talc particles would eventually cause inflammation in the ovaries and lead to the development of cancerous ovarian cell growth.
A woman from Texas filed a complaint in mid-August alleging that the consistent use of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder caused the death of her daughter, Janel Kuntz. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at 43 years old, and was apparently using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder product for at least 23 years. She was unaware of the health complications talc powder has on females who use it to keep their lady parts “fresh” as the powder absorbs moisture and eliminates odor.
But Janel Kuntz was not the first woman to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer due to using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder. The first talcum powder lawsuit filed against Johnson & Johnson was in 2009 by a woman named Diane Berg. And in 2013, Jackie Fox filed a talcum powder lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson. Unfortunately Ms. Fox passed away in 2015 due to ovarian cancer, but the pharmaceutical company was found liable and paid out $72 million to Ms. Fox’s son after her death.
Berg, Kuntz, and Fox are only a few among many women who have filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson for their unsafe talc-based powder products. The growing number of talcum powder lawsuits being filed against Johnson & Johnson has sparked “a group of plaintiffs” to file a motion with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to consolidate all claims as part of a multi-district ligtigation (MDL).
Dr. Nikita Levy – husband, father, family man, OB/GYN – deceased since February 2013 when he took his own life. The doctor committed suicide soon after he was accused of violating his doctor-patient relationship with thousands of women who were examined by him. Dr. Levy practiced for at least 25 years at a John Hopkins Medicine Clinic in Baltimore, Maryland. He was highly esteemed as a great OB/GYN practitioner, leaving most of his patients shocked when they found out that he secretly filmed them with a spy pen during their pelvic examinations.
The disturbing news was brought forth when a coworker took home Dr. Levy’s pen to confirm her suspicions that the doctor was indeed filming his patients. It has been reported that over 1,000 photos and videos were taken of his patients while they were undressed.
A $190 million dollar settlement was approved by the court in September 2014 between John Hopkins Hospital and the women involved in the lawsuit. 9,600 claims against Dr. Levy were timely submitted to the court in November 2014, but at least 2,000 claimants are still awaiting approval due to lack of evidence (medical records) that would indicate they were ever seen by Dr. Levy in the past.
Even though the court reached a settlement, timely claims need to be assessed to ensure validity and accuracy of the submitted claims. Assessments have and will be made by Adjudicator Judge Irma S. Raker (Ret.) who will be assisted by RG/2 Claims Administration LLC. Accepted claimants are assessed by interviews via telephone; individuals will be asked questions regarding their claim. And because there are thousands of interviews being conducted, only less than half of the 9,600 claimants have been contacted thus far.
Once all of the claimants have been contacted, and assessments are made, the settlement for $190 million dollars will be processed to all with valid claims. The award amount received by each claimant is still uncertain, though it will depend on the severity of each individual’s injuries.
Though there are still cases that have yet to be settled, a subsidiary of Endo International plc has recently resolved more than 100 cases regarding vaginal mesh injury claims. American Medical Systems, Inc. (AMS) has settled multi-district litigation cases in West Virginia concerning injuries and complications due to defected vaginal mesh products.
Endo International plc is a healthcare company that globally produces, manufactures, markets and distributes pharmaceutical products (brand name and generic). Some of AMS’s defected products attached to the lawsuit are listed below:
- MiniArc Sling
- IntePro Y Sling
Among other reported injuries, most women who used said products have experienced side effects and complications that include chronic pelvic pain, recurrence of prolapse and/or stress urinary incontinence (SUI). While vaginal mesh products are supposed to help treat women with SUI and pelvic organ prolapse (POP), they’re in turn creating more issues for these women, and in some cases, making matters worse. The FDA approved vaginal mesh products to help aid women with SUI and POP, but now they’re considered to be “high-risk devices” due to the continuing injuries linked to the implants.
In 2014, Endo made an agreement with multiple plaintiffs’ firms involved with vaginal mesh injury cases to pay $830 million dollars in hopes of settling a great portion of these particular injury suits. Though Endo resolved a large chunk of these cases, the company is still knee deep in open cases. Endo is reaching settlements years after they announced they’d pay millions to settle thousands of suits in regards to the injury claims.
Last year in April, Endo reported to U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin concerning the settlements they made in more than 300 cases. 108 more cases settled by Endo were reported to the judge a month later. And then again in July, 100 cases with AMS were settled.
Even with the recent cases AMS has settled, tens of thousands of cases are still open and pending between other MDLs.
Various dioceses within the Catholic church continue to settle with victims of sex abuse at the hands of church officials and clergymen. Recently, the diocese of Camden settled two decades old sex abuse allegations. The settlement amount wasn’t revealed, but some outlets have reported the victims received five figures. According to published stories about the scandal, the male victims were abused in the 1950s and 1960s respectively. The abuse took place when the victims were adolescents. They received their compensation later in life. The sex abuse scandals have been haunting the Catholic Church for decades. The explosion of allegations, revelation of cover ups, and announcements of huge settlements have all damaged the reputation of the church. In addition, they have been big financial blows to the church who have had to pay millions to the victims.
The Camden settlements are just the latest in a string of settlements that the church has reached with victims for decades. The 2015 film Spotlight dramatized the journey journalists from the Boston Globe went through to report the allegations and stories of the victims. Aside from the film, the global scandal has been written, talked about, and discussed in many forms of media. Currently, there are lawsuits moving forward in court on this issue. While the topic has not been as widely covered as it once was when the scandal first broke, it is still deemed newsworthy. Catholic Sex Abuse scandal has effected and continues to affect individuals and families haunted by the trauma. The abuse and subsequent cover up went on for so long that it will still take decades before it dies down. Future settlements will probably be made because of the negative impact the sex abuse scandal has had on the Catholic Church. Victims are seeking compensation and justice for the abuse they suffered and continue to receive it even after a long period of time passes. The Camden settlements just show that the Catholic Church has a long way to go handling this issue.
Dow Chemical was the final holdout in the polyurethane litigation that has been ongoing for over a decade. It was announced, they settled the polyurethane class action lawsuit for $835 million. According to the company, they decided to settle because it was easier than dealing with unknown factors with the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. In their press release about the settlement, they stated
Growing political uncertainties due to recent events within the Supreme Court and increased likelihood for unfavorable outcomes for business involved in class action suits have changed Dow’s risk assessment of the situation.
The company was accused of engaging in price-fixing on products that contained polyurethane for a long period of time. Dow Chemical vehemently denied the allegations and has fought them even after juries awarded huge verdicts against them. They had an appeal before the Supreme Court where they were hoping to have the verdicts overturned. Some news outlets have reported even if the Supreme Court heard the case in Scalia’s absence, a tie would have upheld the lower court’s decision which was bad for Dow Chemical. The death of Justice Scalia caused them to reevaluate the situation and settle the lawsuit which they have been dealing with for over 10 years. This should put an end to all polyurethane related litigation because Dow was the last company fighting. All the other companies settled their lawsuits with the plaintiffs. Once news got around Dow Chemical settled this lawsuit, analysts offered positive comments about it. So the plaintiffs now have to wait for distribution of the funds to remedy the problem.
In 2015, the New York Review of Books (NYRB) reviewed John Coffee Jr.’s book Entrepreneurial Litigation: It’s Rise, Fall, and Future. In his book, Coffee writes about the reality of lawyer financed, lawyer controlled and lawyer settled cases and the murky agenda some attorneys may have in pursuing those cases. He also touches on the topics of class actions and how they play a role in entrepreneurial litigation. The NYRB’s article focused on the effect class actions can have stopping corporate wrongdoing. That article written by Judge Jed S. Rakoff, of the Southern District of New York, broached on the history of class actions, the possibility of misconduct on the part of plaintiffs’ attorneys, the future of class actions, and the recent moves by Congress and the Supreme Court on the topic of class actions.
At the very outset of a plaintiffs’ attorney’s career, they know they will have to carry the reputation and financial burden alone on their shoulders. In addition to being lawyers, they are also entrepreneurs. The firm lives and dies by the skill of the plaintiffs’ attorney, the cases they take, and their financial standing. Whenever they take part in litigating big or high profile cases, their motives are questioned. Whether they are driven by fees, bringing justice to their client or gaining the stature associated with the litigation. One would assume its a mix of all three, but a plaintiffs’ attorney’s main job is to be a strong advocate for their client. They have to be skilled enough and knowledgeable enough to present their client’s case in court. Plaintiffs’ attorneys have to be able withstand the wherewithal to litigate these cases where delays are imminent and payment is delayed.
Recently,Mauritius, a small country off the coast of Africa, reaffirmed their criteria for enforcing foreign judgments. The issue of foreign judgments can be tricky because there are a lot of factors that can play a role in that judgment and whether it will be enforced. That is why many countries have signed treaties where they agree to certain conditions on foreign judgments. In an article written by Gilbert Noel, a Partner at Appleby Global Group Services Limited, he states the benefits of Mauritius’ Supreme Court upholding the criteria. He says it give the business community confidence investing in Mauritius and keeps the country in line with international trends.
As the globalization trend continues across the world, people and companies who are doing business in different countries have to be aware of what can be done in the and legal system. Businesses and people need consistency and the ability to fix a problem should one arise through the court system. That is why investing in different countries isn’t as easy because what’s legal matters. When a foreign national or business runs into a problem where the legal system is needed, they need to know the steps that need to be taken. If they are successful in bringing a claim, they need to be able to enforce that judgment. For any foreign national or company that brings a legal matter in the legal system, it can be difficult enforcing that judgment. First, they are at a disadvantage because of they are dealing with a different kind of court system. Next, asset classification, publications, and seizure may be next to impossible. Third, the role of foreign policy can not be ignored. The relations between two countries can have an effect on how the citizens from those countries are treated. Lastly, it may also depend who the judgment is against. That person or company could be a highly respected in their country and it could be damaging for them to suffer such an indignity. So efforts might be made to protect them from such a fate.
However, Mauritius has made their criteria clear and what’s needed to enforce a foreign judgment. The country is a hub for business and thus its important for any foreign national or company who is doing business in the country as well as any who would like to what they are facing should they dive in.
Mauritius Criteria For Enforcing Foreign Judgments:
(a) the judgment must still be valid and capable of execution in the country where it was delivered;
(b) it must not be contrary to any principle affecting public order;
(c) the defendant must have been regularly summoned to attend the proceedings; and
(d) the court which delivered the judgment must have had jurisdiction to deal with the matter submitted to it.
The world famous John Hopkins Hospital settled a class action lawsuit for $190 million from about 8,000 women and girls who claim they were violated by a gynecologist employed by the hospital. Dr. Nikita Levy, the doctor who conducted the examinations, committed suicide before he could be questioned by the authorities. According to news reports, there were over 1,000 videos taken and over 100 images taken of the women during their examinations. Gynecological exams are very intimate and knowing someone has violated that privacy can cause irreparable harm to the women affected. Many of the women claim they have since been traumatized because of the actions of the doctor.
The hospital will not have to pay the settlement because the hospital’s insurance policy will pay. Although 8,000 women and girls were part of the class action lawsuit, the Press-Herald reported Levy saw close to 13,000 patients. This is a huge blemish on the hospital’s record. Hospitals are prone to litigation because of the sensitive information they deal with and the medical procedures they conduct. Like any business, they are responsible for their employees actions. None more so than the doctors and nurses who work for them. Many tort reform advocates claim the litigation drives up the medical malpractice insurance which in turns drives the cost for doctors, surgeons, and hospitals. Incidents like the one at John Hopkins Hospital are why its important for people to push for litigation and assert their rights in court. While the price of justice is high, its important for any and all victims of any crime to seek compensation from those entities that are liable.